Increasing Number of Teens Undergoing Weight Loss Procedure

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A new study is showing that more teens that are overweight are undergoing laparoscopic gastric band surgery which is a weight-loss procedure that isn't approved for anyone under 18 years old.

The rates are going up "as diet and activity are proven again and again to be ineffective at getting morbidly obese patients to lose weight," said study co-author Dr. Daniel A. DeUgart, a pediatric surgeon at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Researchers discovered by looking at a databank for bypass surgery that 590 people between 13 and 20 years old underwent gastric band or gastric bypass surgery in the period studied. Eighteen percent of the patients were under 18 showing that more teens are undergoing weight loss procedure

Many experts believe the weight loss surgeries are needed while others express concern that teens may be risking their health.

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To make the situation worse, researchers found that 93% of the surgeries were performed in hospitals that are not affiliated with nationally recognized children's hospitals. The authorsnoted that although "manufacturers have touted the banding procedure as less invasive, many [medical] centers have abandoned gastric banding because of poor long-term results," concerns about chronic esophageal blockage, the need for frequent readjustments, and complications from the surgery.

Dr. Edward Livingston, a gastric surgeon at the University of Texas Southwestern School says, "If you follow the rules it works. But most people who get to be 400 pounds aren't very good at following rules."

Obesity is a very big problem for today's youth, and DeUgart noting some over-sized students must be home-schooled because they don't fit into the chairs in their local public schools."Bariatric surgery is increasingly becoming a treatment option for adolescents, and in the right setting and with proper evaluation, it may be appropriate," said DeUgart.

It is important to notte that bariatric surgery isn't a cure-all for obesity. The study doesn't say if the procedures kept weight off in the long term. In addition the researchrs noted that many teens aren't emotionally ready for the change in how they look at food, Livingston added. "When you force that kind of change on them, you can run into trouble," he said.

The study did conclude that more teens are undergoing a weight-loss procedure. "Long-term studies are needed to fully assess the efficacy, safety, and healthcare costs of these procedures in adolescents," DeUgarte and his colleagues concluded.

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