It’s pretty well known that obesity is linked to a number of health problems, including type 2 diabetes.

It’s also pretty well known that black Americans have higher incidences of diabetes and poorer health outcomes than their white counterparts.

The good news is that there are a number of ways to prevent or reduce the presence of both diseases.

Good nutrition and exercise are important for prevention and some doctors say good old-fashioned dietary changes and exercise can’t be beat for achieving weight loss. Victoza, an injectable diabetes treatment has been found to help patients reduce and maintain blood sugar at a medically ideal level and precipitated weight loss, but questions have been raised recently about potential side effects.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, however, believes there is an option overlooked by far too many diabetics: gastric bypass surgery.

Oz contends that gastric bypass surgery can help people lose weight, prevent heart disease and cancer, and reverse type 2 diabetes virtually overnight, but that only 1 percent of patients eligible for the surgery elect to undergo the procedure.

The popular surgeon and television host of the “Dr. Oz” show has said that diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, sleep apnea, cancer, asthma, reflux, infertility, low back pain, and osteoarthritis all could be prevented, cured or controlled through gastric banding and the gastric bypass procedure.

Opponents say there are health risks involved with the gastric bypass procedure that should give one pause. They accuse Oz of whitewashing poor outcomes that some patients have experienced, including hair loss and incontinence.

For the obese, however, gastric bypass or banding offers an opportunity to get them back to the starting line to reduce further on their own or maintain the weight loss.

Gastric bypass surgery changes how your stomach and small intestine process the food you eat by making your stomach smaller, making you feel fuller with less food.

With banding, a surgeon places a band around the upper part of your stomach and creates a small pouch that limits how much food you can eat and makes you feel fuller sooner after eating small amounts.

The band can later be adjusted by your doctor so that food can pass slowly or faster through the digestive system.

Any surgery poses risks, but some are intensified by gastric bypass surgery and banding can result in severe gastritis and, in some cases, the band erodes through the stomach and must be removed.

But Oz says the health risks posed by obesity far outweigh those associated with surgery.

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