Over 4 million children and adolescents in the US suffer from obesity. Despite this startling statistic, very few effective treatments are available. While bariatric surgery has been shown to be an effective treatment option for adults, few studies have focused on children. A recent study conducted through the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, looked at 228 obese children aged 13 to 19 who underwent either Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery or gastric sleeve surgery. The children were monitored for three years after their surgery for weight loss, coexisting conditions, weight-related quality of life, micronutrient levels, and additional abdominal procedures.
Improvements were seen in weight, BMI, kidney function, blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure. The average weight loss was 90 pounds, with 26% of study participants reducing their BMI to non-obese levels after 3 years. Study participants also reported improvements in weight-related quality of life.
Not all the outcomes were positive. Nutritional deficiencies in iron, vitamin B12, and vitamin A were found to be exacerbated 3 years after the bariatric surgery. Additionally, 44 intraabdominal procedures were performed that were considered to related to the bariatric surgery (13%).
Adults who have undergone gastric bypass surgery have been shown to have a 50 to 70% remission in type 2 diabetes, and 40% remission in high blood pressure. This study showed a 95% remission in type 2 diabetes in adolescents and 80% remission in high blood pressure, leading the study authors to theorize that adolescents may have a greater potential for reversal of cardiovascular consequences of obesity than adults after undergoing bariatric surgery.
While the rewards of improved weight, BMI, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, kidney function, blood sugar, and weight-related quality of life are promising, these rewards need to be balanced with the potential consequences of bariatric surgery on adolescents, including nutritional deficiencies and additional abdominal surgery when deciding if bariatric surgery is right for your adolescent.
Dr. Shillingford, M.D., P.A., a board certified surgeon specializing in laparoscopic and obesity surgery, is available to discuss the risks and benefits of gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, or adjustable lap band weight loss procedures with parents and adolescents considering bariatric surgery. To schedule an appointment, please call Dr. Shillingford’s office at (561) 483-8840. Dr. Shillingford’s patients frequently come from South Florida, including Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Miami and Fort Lauderdale, but many patients do come from as far away as Jacksonville, Georgia, and New York.