Obesity is a growing health risk with few successful treatment options and fewer still that target both obesity and obesity-associated comorbidities. Despite ongoing scientific efforts, the most effective treatment option to date was not developed from basic research but by surgeons observing outcomes in the clinic. Bariatric surgery is the most successful treatment for significant weight loss, resolution of type 2 diabetes and the prevention of future weight gain. Recent work with animal models has shed considerable light on the molecular underpinnings of the potent effects of these ‘metabolic’ surgical procedures. Here we review data from animal models and how these studies have evolved our understanding of the critical signalling systems that mediate the effects of bariatric surgery. These insights could lead to alternative therapies able to accomplish effects similar to bariatric surgery in a less invasive manner.
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