Bariatric surgery is safe for teens with morbid obesity

Bariatric surgery is safe and, in many cases, beneficial for teenagers with morbid obesity who would otherwise face a heightened risk of developing severe health problems, including heart disease and stroke, according to a new study from Penn Medicine and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Researchers presented their findings last month at the American Academy of Pediatrics 2019 National Conference & Exhibition in New Orleans.

Floor view of a person stepping onto a scale on a bath mat

“As the rate of childhood obesity continues to increase, it’s critical for us to identify whether weight loss procedures that are frequently performed on adults are also safe and effective options for adolescents and teens,” said the study’s senior author Robert A. Swendiman, a sixth-year general surgery resident at Penn Medicine. “One component of that evaluation is balancing the risks of weight loss surgery against the prolonged exposure to severe health risks associated with obesity. Our findings show that the risks of undergoing bariatric surgery are quite low, suggesting that—for the right patients—surgery can serve as a safe and effective way to improve the health of these pre-teen and teenagers.”

In the United States, there are nearly five million adolescents aged 10 to 17 with obesity, according to recent reports. Children with morbid or severe obesity—defined by a body mass index at or above the 99th percentile for children of the same age and sex—have a higher risk of developing serious health conditions, including Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Read more at Penn Medicine News.