Doctor: Advances great, but diabetes a "tsunami"

Gwen Seton checks her blood sugar up to seven times a day now that she has diabetes.

(CBS News) - Despite a promising recent report showing that weight loss surgery is dramatically more effective for type 2 diabetesthan traditional diet changes and medication, a leading doctor says the disease is still a growing problem.

Dr. Philip Schauer, director of the Bariatric and Metabolic Institute at the Cleveland Clinic, called type 2 diabetes "..a tsunami."

"Millions are getting this disease and many of them are going to end up having kidney failure, dialysis, amputation, blindness, heart attacks and strokes," Schauer said Tuesday on "CBS This Morning." "And the medications we have are good, but still about half the folks who are on medications are not in good control."

Four years ago, Lesley Stahl approached this research in its early stages for a "60 Minutes" report on gastric bypass surgery as a potential cure for diabetes. The disease affects at least 25 million Americans.

(Watch Dr. Jon LaPook's report on this research, including one man's gastric bypass surgery story in the video below.)

Schauer is the study leader of the Cleveland Clinic's research that may offer hope for many through surgery. His organization's research found after one year, 42 percent of people who underwent gastric bypass surgery procedure had their diabetes completely under control with low blood sugar, compared to just 12 percent for those using just medications.

The research was published in the New England Journal of Medicine this week with another study that found, similarly, that surgery can reverse and possibly cure diabetes.

Schauer called surgery "another weapon" doctors can use to fight diabetes.

"I think it's a game changer," Schauer said. "One of the amazing things about surgery is how quickly their blood sugar normalizes. In fact, we had patients in the study, within literally hours or days of the operation, before they lost any weight, reached normal blood sugar."