Is Weight-loss Surgery OK for Kids?
Savvy aunties know that childhood obesity is a huge problem today. According to the CDC, almost 1/3 of American kids are overweight or obese.
The contributing causes are numerous. Occasionally, genetic factors can affect it, but more so, it is related to behavioral issues. Kids today spend less time playing outdoors and more time watching TV and playing video games. Of course, our diet with processed foods high in sugars and fructose corn syrup factors in too.
Obesity is more than a matter of aesthetics; it leads to medical and psychosocial problems for these children. We are seeing children with diseases traditionally considered adult diseases, such as hypertension and Type 2 Diabetes, putting them at risk for heart disease and stroke. Some say that this is the first generation in over 30 years that will not live as long as their parents.
Now, a new study documents the benefits of weight-loss surgery for children who are morbidly obese. This is the first large-scale study that looked at this type of surgery in youth. It examined patients of both gastric bypass surgery that surgically divides the stomach into a smaller pouch and gastric band surgery where a silicone band is used to decrease the stomach size.
This study found it a safe and effective option for very obese kids. Children in the study lost an average of 66 lbs. – with greater weight loss in those children who had gastric bypass surgery. While the study includes children ages 11-18 years old, most kids were closer to 18. And one year after either type of surgery, kids had significant improvement in both physical and psychological obesity-related problems, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and depression.
This is an encouraging study, but Savvy Aunties know that no surgery is without risk, and the younger a child is who has this surgery, the more complicated it is to manage their nutrients as they grow because this type of surgery can disrupt the normal absorption process of the GI tract.
Without a doubt, the safest way to lose weight is with healthy lifestyle choices, such as a healthy diet combined with a regular exercise program. However if your nieces and nephews are morbidly obese and already have obesity-related diseases, such as diabetes and depression, and have tried lifestyle changes with minimal effects, this may be an option you may want to tell you siblings to discuss with their children’s doctors.
Photo: Stuart Miles
Published: August 20, 2012