Health News

Jun 20, 2012 12:27 PM by Lacey Steele

Your Healthy Family: Bariatric Surgery in Teens

The obesity epidemic is a growing problem in both children and adults.

We have more about it in today's Your Healthy Family.

Weight loss surgery for teens is becoming more common, but how young is too young for bariatric surgery?

Amanda Rodriguez weighed almost 300 pounds so she had gastric bypass surgery a day before her 17th birthday.

Both her parents had it too.

"In order for me to go to school which was high school, there were several flights up steps that I couldn't get up because i was so big so heavy," said Amanda. "I needed and elevator key. It was really embarrassing."

Amanda was part of a study analyzing results of weight loss surgery in adolescents.

The University of Miami was the lead research site for this study which looked at 890 teens.

Sixty-six pounds was the average weight loss after one year.

Teens who had gastric bypass lost twice as much as those who got an adjustable band, but there are still no long term results.

"Why wait?" asked Dr. Sarah Messiah, a pediatric researcher. "If you have a patient that is morbidly obese in their teenage years, and there is an intervention available to help them have a healthier life as and adult why not."

While the rate of obesity in children continues to increase many pediatricians and parents hesitate to chose weight loss surgery for teens.

One bariatric surgeon sees it as an option possibly for children.

"The youngest age I would do this operation? I'm not sure," said Dr. Nestor de la Cruz, a bariatric surgeon. "If someone presented me with a 9 or 10 year old that was severely morbidly obese I would consider it."

Amanda has lost more than 100 pounds, is now a college student and says gastric bypass has improved her life.

"I'm able to walk around the campus and I'm able to go on school field trips and kind of interact with really cute guys

Medicaid paid for Amanda's surgery.

Doctors are hoping the results of this study will prompt more private insurance companies to cover the cost for teens.



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