It's a misconception that obesity is always related to type two diabetes, but when it is the major cause -- weight loss can be an effective form of treatment. In this Dealing with Diabetes report, Eye on Health meets a local man whose story provides a dramatic demonstration.
To see Tony Cortez today, you might not guess that he once weighed 469 pounds. His wife and young daughter feared they would lose him, either from morbid obesity or from his eventual onset of diabetes.
When he was told he would have to start taking insulin shots every day, he began looking into surgical weight loss.
"When we started researching everything, they were saying it might drop the diabetes down if I did this, you know, this surgery and stuff. So, we ended up doing that. Everything worked out pretty good," shared Tony.
Las Vegas bariatric surgeon, James Atkinson, says about one-third of his patients developed diabetes as a result of excessive weight gain. "Our bodies are not designed to carry excess weight. So for 25 or 30 pounds and above, people are at risk for multiple medical problems -- diabetes being one of them."
By dropping the pounds, many of these patients, nearly 90-percent, also drop their diabetes -- along with potential diabetes-related complications.
"Diabetes carries a whole lot of problems underneath it," said Dr. Atkinson. "So if we can get rid of that problem -- diabetes, then all those problems such as heart disease, peripheral neuropathy and those types of things that follow diabetes, goes away as well."
Tony has lost 260 pounds since having gastric bypass surgery two years ago. And while his diabetes is gone for now, his wife, Veronica wants to make sure it doesn't come back, which will always be a possibility. She says the whole family eats a lot healthier than before.
Depending on the procedure, weight loss surgery can cost anywhere from $15,000 to $30,000. But some insurance companies cover it. In Tony's case, his insurance did not cover it, but his wife's did.
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