Confronting an Epidemic

By Steve Barrett
Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Treating obesity and diabetes consumes billions of U.S. healthcare dollars each year. Research indicates bariatric surgery can play a significant role in addressing those health issues.

A High Toll

Approximately 5.5 million American adults had a diagnosis of diabetes in 1980. By 2014, that had risen to 21.9 million.

More than 8 million Americans are believed to have undiagnosed diabetes.

Total direct and indirect costs of diagnosed diabetes in the U.S. are estimated at $245 billion annually. That represents:

  • $176 billion in medical costs
  • $69 billion in lower productivity


A meta-analysis of 621 studies involving approximately 135,000 patients found that of the 22% of patients who had Type 2 diabetes:

  • about 78% experienced complete resolution of manifestations of diabetes following bariatric surgery
  • approximately 87% saw resolution or improvement
  • significant decreases occurred in insulin levels and hemoglobin A1c

State of the States

Geography may not be destiny, but adult obesity is more concentrated in the South.

States with the highest obesity rates:

  • Arkansas: 35.9%
  • West Virginia: 35.7%
  • Mississippi: 35.5%
  • Louisiana: 34.9%
  • Alabama: 33.5%

States with the lowest obesity rates:

  • Colorado: 21.3%
  • Hawaii: 22.1%
  • Massachusetts: 23.3%
  • California: 24.7%
  • Vermont: 24.8%