"Our results suggest that bariatric (weight loss) surgery may be a highly effective method of preventing the onset of diabetes in men and women with severe obesity," said Martin Gulliford, professor at King's College London in Britain.

We need to understand how weight loss surgery can be used, together with interventions to increase physical activity and promote healthy eating, as part of an overall diabetes prevention strategy, he added.

Using electronic health records from UK Clinical Practice Research Data link, the researchers assessed the effect of contemporary surgical weight loss procedures on the development of diabetes.

They identified 2,167 obese adults without diabetes, who underwent one of three surgical procedures (laparoscopic adjustable banding, sleeve gastrectomy, or gastric bypass) for weight loss from 2002 onwards.

These participants were compared with 2,167 controls. Participants were followed up for a maximum of seven years.

During follow-up, 38 new diagnoses of diabetes among participants who had weight loss surgery were recorded, compared with 177 in control participants.

Compared with controls, diabetes incidence was reduced by about 80 percent in participants who had surgery, even after controlling for other important factors including smoking, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

The study appeared in the journal The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.

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