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Does Gastric Bypass Reduce Cardiovascular Complications of Diabetes?

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Doctor with patient

Thinkstock/IPGGutenbergUKLtd

For obese people with diabetes, doctors have increasingly been offering gastric bypass surgery as a way to lose weight and control blood glucose levels. Short-term results are often impressive, but questions have remained about the long-term benefits of such operations. Now, a large, international study has some answers.

Soon after gastric bypass surgery, about 50 percent of folks not only lost weight but they also showed well-controlled blood glucose, cholesterol, and blood pressure. The good news is that five years later about half of those who originally showed those broad benefits of surgery maintained that healthy profile. The not-so-good news is that the other half, while they generally continued to sustain weight loss and better glucose control, began to show signs of increasing risk for cardiovascular complications.


Unraveling the Biocircuitry of Obesity

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Mouse neurons

Caption: Mouse neurons (purple), with their nuclei (blue) and primary cilia (green).
Credit: Yi Wang, Vaisse Lab, UCSF

Obesity involves the complex interplay of diet, lifestyle, genetics, and even the bacteria living in the gut. But there are other less-appreciated factors that are likely involved, and a new NIH-supported study suggests one that you probably never would have imagined: antenna-like sensory projections on brain cells.

The study in mice, published in the journal Nature Genetics [1], suggests these neuronal projections, called primary cilia, are a key part of a known “hunger circuit,” which receives signals from other parts of the body to control appetite. The researchers add important evidence in mouse studies showing that changes in the primary cilia can produce a short circuit, impairing the brain’s ability to regulate appetite and leading to overeating and obesity.


Obesity Research: Study Shows Significant Benefits of Modest Weight Loss

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5% weight lossFor the one in three American adults who are obese, recommendations to lose substantial amounts of weight through a combination of diet and exercise can seem daunting and, at times, hopeless. But a new study should come as encouraging news for all those struggling to lose the extra pounds: even a modest goal of 5 percent weight loss delivers considerable health benefits.

In the NIH-funded study, people with obesity who lost just 5 percent of their body weight—about 12 pounds on average—showed improvements in several risk factors for type 2 diabetes and heart disease. They also showed metabolic improvements in many parts of the body, including the liver, pancreas, muscle, and fat tissue. While people who lost additional weight enjoyed further improvements in their health, the findings reported in the journal Cell Metabolism show that sometimes it really does pay to start small [1].


Got Your Red On?

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The hard truth is that heart disease is the #1 killer of American women. And it’s largely preventable. The Heart Truth® was started here at NIH’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to raise awareness of these truths. You’re probably most familiar with the campaign through its February 1st fashion statement, which has arguably become a cultural icon: the red dress. The Red Dress® is a decade old this year. And, like heart disease, it doesn’t discriminate by gender. Everyone can wear red today. It’s a symbol of solidarity – and a reminder that we should each attend to our heart’s needs every day: by making healthful decisions like exercising more, quitting smoking, and maintaining a healthy weight and blood pressure.

For more information:
The Heart Truth: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/educational/hearttruth/
Women and Heart Disease: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hdw/

The Heart Truth info graphic

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Source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, NIH