Health & Fitness

Defeating diabetes: The pounds-off solution

Mehmet Oz, M.D., and Michael Roizen, M.D.
Mehmet Oz, M.D., and Michael Roizen, M.D.

Whether you’re hoping to avoid diabetes, fighting to control it or making a move that may reverse and defeat it, your attack plan needs to start with shedding pounds. And here are the various ways you may achieve that goal and kick diabetes in the glucose maximus:

You are obese and have Type 2 diabetes: Is weight-loss surgery the best medicine for Type 2 diabetes? Diabetes experts and organizations from around the world say the answer may be “yes.” We’re talking about Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB) and laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding (LAGB), which can reduce your risk of future diabetes complications, such as heart attack, blindness, nerve damage, kidney problems and more.

According to a three-year clinical trial that looked at those procedures versus intensive lifestyle intervention, RYGB and LAGB spur dramatic weight loss and allow 65 percent of those undergoing RYGB and 33 percent of LAGB patients to stop taking insulin or oral diabetes meds completely at year three post-surgery. None of the folks on intensive lifestyle treatment could do that!

Currently, the American Diabetes Association and the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery suggest such procedures for people who have diabetes and a BMI of 35 or higher. But in this study, 26 of 61 obese participants had BMIs of 30-34.9, suggesting that it might be smart to consider weight-loss surgery for mild obesity.

So, if you’re struggling to manage your weight and your diabetes, ask your doctor about weight-loss surgery risks and benefits, along with the lifelong commitment it requires to careful eating, exercise and, quite likely, taking supplements to avoid nutrition gaps.

You have prediabetes: If you’re among the more than 86 million Americans with prediabetes, we have a different message: Eat only foods that love you back, exercise and aim to lose a little weight. Dropping a few pounds — and keeping them off — could help you sidestep full-blown diabetes, its complications and surgery.

No one should wait to do something until surgery is the best solution for weight and diabetes management! Whether you have diabetes, are overweight or obese, or are contending with prediabetes, here are smart steps to help you get healthier starting today:

▪  Eat plants, often. Piling your plate with veggies and beans, then savoring fruit for dessert can slash your diabetes risk by up to 34 percent, according to a brand-new analysis of the health histories of more than 200,000 people.

Researchers from Harvard say plant-based goodness reduces diabetes odds by cooling off bodywide inflammation, improving sensitivity to insulin (the hormone that tells cells to absorb blood sugar), and by fueling digestive-system bacteria that discourage diabetes. And filling up on healthful veggies (five to nine servings daily) satisfies hunger with fewer calories and more nutrients and fiber, a sure way to help get elevated glucose levels under control.

▪  Move, move, move. Exercising for 30 to 60 minutes most days can cut your risk for diabetes by up to 46 percent and help lower elevated blood sugar levels if you have diabetes.

How? Working your muscles encourages them to pull blood sugar from your bloodstream, even if muscle cells are insulin-resistant. It also makes those cells more sensitive to insulin so they grab more blood sugar.

▪  Drop a couple of pounds, then keep them off. Losing just 5 percent to 7 percent of your body weight (9 to 12 pounds if you weigh 175) can cut your risk for diabetes by 58 percent and reduce your risk of complications if you already have diabetes.

Check out the Diabetes Prevention Program classes available at hundreds of YMCAs, hospitals, workplaces and other sites across the United States. This program combines group support and a trained instructor’s guidance to help you lose weight.

Check to see if your health insurance covers enrollment, and if you’re 65 or older, Medicare is expected to cover the program in the near future.

To find a DPP class near you, go to and search for National Diabetes Prevention Program.

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit