Gastric bypass surgery vs intensive lifestyle and medical intervention for type 2 diabetes: the CROSSROADS randomised controlled trial

Diabetologia. 2016 May;59(5):945-53. doi: 10.1007/s00125-016-3903-x. Epub 2016 Mar 17.


Aims/hypothesis: Mounting evidence indicates that Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB) ameliorates type 2 diabetes, but randomised trials comparing surgical vs nonsurgical care are needed. With a parallel-group randomised controlled trial (RCT), we compared RYGB vs an intensive lifestyle and medical intervention (ILMI) for type 2 diabetes, including among patients with a BMI <35 kg/m(2).

Methods: By use of a shared decision-making recruitment strategy targeting the entire at-risk population within an integrated community healthcare system, we screened 1,808 adults meeting inclusion criteria (age 25-64, with type 2 diabetes and a BMI 30-45 kg/m(2)). Of these, 43 were allocated via concealed, computer-generated random assignment in a 1:1 ratio to RYGB or ILMI. The latter involved ≥45 min of aerobic exercise 5 days per week, a dietitian-directed weight- and glucose-lowering diet, and optimal diabetes medical treatment for 1 year. Although treatment allocation could not be blinded, outcomes were determined by a blinded adjudicator. The primary outcome was diabetes remission at 1 year (HbA1c <6.0% [<42.1 mmol/mol], off all diabetes medicines).

Results: Twenty-three volunteers were assigned to RYGB and 20 to ILMI. Of these, 11 withdrew before receiving any intervention. Hence 15 in the RYGB group and 17 in the IMLI group were analysed throughout 1 year. The groups were equivalent regarding all baseline characteristics, except that the RYGB cohort had a longer diabetes duration (11.4 ± 4.8 vs 6.8 ± 5.2 years, p = 0.009). Weight loss at 1 year was 25.8 ± 14.5% vs 6.4 ± 5.8% after RYGB vs ILMI, respectively (p < 0.001). The ILMI exercise programme yielded a 22 ± 11% increase in [Formula: see text] (p<0.0001), whereas [Formula: see text] after RYGB was unchanged. Diabetes remission at 1 year was 60.0% with RYGB vs 5.9% with ILMI (p = 0.002). The HbA1c decline over 1 year was only modestly more after RYGB than ILMI: from 7.7 ± 1.0% (60.7 mmol/mol) to 6.4 ± 1.6% (46.4 mmol/mol) vs 7.3 ± 0.9% (56.3 mmol/mol) to 6.9 ± 1.3% (51.9 mmol/mol), respectively (p = 0.04); however, this drop occurred with significantly fewer or no diabetes medications after RYGB. No life-threatening complications occurred.

Conclusions/interpretation: Compared with the most rigorous ILMI yet tested against surgery in a randomised trial, RYGB yielded greater type 2 diabetes remission in mild-to-moderately obese patients recruited from a well-informed, population-based sample.

Trial registration: NCT01295229.

Keywords: Bariatric surgery; Diabetes; Intensive lifestyle; Metabolic surgery; Randomised controlled trial.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / surgery*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / therapy
  • Female
  • Gastric Bypass*
  • Healthy Lifestyle*
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Hypoglycemic Agents

Associated data