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Rosie O'Donnell follows low-carb sugar-free diet after 50-lb weight loss surgery

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Rosie O'Donnell feels great after losing 50 pounds following her August 2013 bariatric weight-loss surgery and now follows a sugar-free diet.

"I read in a magazine article that sugar is eight times more addictive than heroin," Rosie told People. "I walk past one of those kiosks selling newspapers and I'm like, 'There's the Swedish Fish.' Almost like how alcoholics can't go into a bar. They want to grab the bottle, I want to do that with the Swedish Fish."

Still, O'Donnell, who was pre-diabetic before undergoing gastric-sleeve surgery, remains committed to her sugar-free diet because it dramatically improve her health.

"Sugar is eight times more addictive than cocaine,” said Dr. Mark Hyman. Dr. Hyman, who helped former president Bill Clinton lose over 30 pounds on a sugar-free diet, said eating sugar fuels an even stronger craving for more sugar, wreaking havoc on your metabolism, hormones, skin and organs.

More leading medical experts now agree that sugar is more dangerous than dietary fat because it causes insulin spikes and promotes inflammation, which is what causes weight gain, diabetes, cancer, and aging (including wrinkles).

Dr. Hyman, author of the 10-Day Detox Diet and the Blood Sugar Solution, said you can torch belly fat and lose 10 pounds in 10 days on a sugar-free diet.

Rosie Was Pre-Diabetic and Almost Died of Heart Attack

O'Donnell embraces her healthy new lifestyle after nearly dying of a heart attack in 2012. The comedian said she exercises daily, eats small portions and keeps stress to a minimum.

Before her weight-loss surgery, Rosie was pre-diabetic, had high cholesterol and high blood pressure. In gastric-sleeve surgery, about 80% of the stomach is removed to create a small sleeve-shaped stomach, about the size of a banana. As a result, you get full after three or four bites of food and can no longer eat huge portions.

O'Donnell, 52, said she resorted to weight-loss surgery after being unable to lose weight on her own through diet and exercise. Rosie hopes her bariatric surgery will inspire other obese people to lose weight, overhaul their diets and exercise. She also wants women to be aware of heart-attack symptoms and be vigilant about their health.

O'Donnell joins a growing list of celebrities getting bariatric surgery. Comedian Lisa Lampanelli got the gastric-sleeve procedure in April 2012 and lost 106 pounds in less than a year. Similarly, celebrity chef Graham Elliot has lost more than 150 pounds since getting gastric sleeve in July 2013. And "Today Show" star Al Roker lost 150 pounds after getting gastric bypass.

Rosie said bariatric surgery isn't the end-all, be-all solution for weight loss, underscoring that you still have to work at eating well and staying active every day to stay slim and healthy.

“It’s a tool, it’s not an answer," she said. "You can’t just get surgery and go ‘I’m done’ and keep eating the way you did. You have to change the way you eat, you have to exercise.”

Bariatric surgery has skyrocketed in popularity, as more medical experts embrace the procedure for producing dramatic weight loss and for reversing diabetes and heart disease. There are many emotional disruptions that accompany weight-loss surgery's stunning physical changes, according to Weight Loss Surgery For Dummies, which just proves that losing weight is as much of an emotional transformation as a physical one.

Meanwhile, bariatric surgeons said they are still troubled by the negative stigma surrounding weight-loss surgery, insisting it's not the "easy way" out by any means. "People lose sight of the fact that the patients aren't just obese, they're sick," said bariatric surgeon Dr. Alan Wittgrove. "It's not as easy as just losing weight."

Update: Rosie O'Donnell lost 55 pounds after weight loss surgery

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