3 Times More Teens Are Undergoing Obesity Surgery

Fat kidA nationwide US study has revealed that the yearly number of teenagers having surgery to tackle severe obesity has strongly increased since the 1990s. A still-small but growing number of teens are undergoing obesity surgery, which reduces the size of the stomach, to treat obesity.

“The number of bariatric procedures in adolescents has increased in the time period 2000 to 2003.Even though these are a small percent of all the bariatric operations done in the U.S., the increase has been significant.”

said lead researcher Dr. Randall S. Burd, an associate professor of surgery in the division of pediatric surgery at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, in New Jersey.

“Because there are still so few (teens getting the surgery), these cases need to be studied to determine what the short-term and long-term outcomes are going to be,” “It is probable that an adolescent who has this procedure will have different long-term outcomes than an adult who undergoes the same procedure,”

Burt said.

The findings are published in the March issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

According to the study, during 1996 and 2003, 566 surgeries were done on adolescents at the sample hospitals. This represents a national estimate of 2,744 adolescents undergoing such procedures, Burd said.

Between 2000 and 2003 the surgery rate tripled. Still, only 771 teens had the procedure in 2003, less than 0.7 percent of the 105,473 bariatric procedures performed that year.

Burd said that teens who had the operation did better than adults immediately after the surgery. “They had shorter hospital stays, and no child died after the operation. For adults, the death rate is 2 %,” he said.

For obese teens who can’t get a handle on their weight any other way, surgery may be the best option, Burd said. “The operation may allow us to prevent the long-term problems related to their obesity that they would have developed if we had waited for their operation until they were 30 or 40 or 50 years old,” he said.

Other experts, like Dr. Fernstrom, think bariatric surgery for teens must be part of a broader approach to weight management.

“There are medical issues, there are psychological issues, there are family issues, there are environmental issues that need to be evaluated before surgery can be chosen as an option. Children are not miniature adults.”

The success of the surgery also depends on making dramatic changes in diet and activity, Dr. Fernstrom noted. “Surgery is a tool to make lifestyle changes easier, and adolescents need to understand that and have the maturity to deal with it,” she said.

Source: Medical News Today

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