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New research has found that severely obese teenagers who undergo weight loss surgery may experience very few short-term complications. This is according to a study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.
Obesity is a growing problem worldwide, particularly for adolescents. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the percentage of obese adolescents in the US aged between 12 and 19 has increased from 5% in 1980 to 18% in 2010.
Researchers from the US, led by investigators from Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, say as the rate of adolescent obesity is increasing, so is the popularity of weight loss surgery (bariatric surgery) as a treatment option.
Previous data has indicated that bariatric surgery can be safely offered to obese teenagers, the researchers say. However, they note there have been few comprehensive or prospective studies analyzing the safety and outcomes of weight loss surgery in adolescents.
In order to address this lack of information, between 2007 and 2012, the researchers examined 242 severely obese teenagers who were an average of 17-years-old. All teenagers had a median body mass index (BMI) of 50.5.
Of the adolescents, 51% suffered from four or more co-existing medical conditions. The most common were high cholesterol, sleep apnea, back and joint pain, high blood pressure and fatty liver disease.
Gastric bypass surgery was performed in 66% of the patients. This is when the digestive system is rerouted past the majority of the stomach.
Vertical sleeve gastrectomy - when the stomach is reduced to around 25% of its original size - was performed in 28% of the patients, and 6% had adjustable gastric banding - when a band is used to reduce stomach size.
On monitoring the adolescents for up to 30 days following the weight loss procedures, it was found that 77% of patients experienced no post-procedure complications, and there were no deaths as a result of the surgery.
Minor complications, such as dehydration, occurred in 15% of the patients, while 8% experienced major complications, such as reoperations.
Dr. Thomas Inge, of the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and principal investigator of the study, says these findings should reassure parents who are looking to bariatric surgery as a treatment option for their children:
"This is important news for families considering bariatric surgery for severely obese teens.
Parents who are considering weight loss surgery for their sons and daughters worry about complications and ask a lot about the safety of surgery. This study should help to alleviate or at least bring those concerns into context."
However, the researchers say that further studies are needed to determine which long-term risks are associated with bariatric surgery for adolescents. They note that the participants involved in this study continue to be followed in order to collect this information.
Medical News Today recently reported on a study suggesting that weight loss surgery is more effective than diet and exercise.
Written by Honor Whiteman
Copyright: Medical News Today
Not to be reproduced without the permission of Medical News Today.
Perioperative Outcomes of Adolescents Undergoing Bariatric Surgery: The Teen–Longitudinal Assessment of Bariatric Surgery (Teen-LABS) Study, doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.4296, Thomas H. Inge, Meg H. Zeller, Todd M. Jenkins, Michael Helmrath, Mary L. Brandt, Marc P. Michalsky, Carroll M. Harmon, Anita Courcoulas, Mary Horlick, Stavra A. Xanthakos, Larry Dolan, Mark Mitsnefes, Sean J. Barnett, Ralph Buncher, published in JAMA Pediatrics, 4 November 2010.
Visit our Obesity / Weight Loss / Fitness category page for the latest news on this subject.
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