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Weight-loss surgery for kids: maybe as a last resort

May 6, 2010 |  3:19 pm

For the 17% of American kids who are considered obese, prevention -- the strategy everyone agrees is the best way to tackle the nation's health woes -- is no longer an option. What, then, to do to prevent a wave of obesity-related diseases down the line?

A new review article published in the British journal the Lancet acknowledges that despite all the hand-wringing -- and the fact that the breathtaking rise in obesity among kids has begun to stabilize -- we seem to know less than ever about what works best to prevent or reverse obesity in kids. Current recommendations for how much kids should reduce their caloric intake "might be too conservative," given research done in 2006, says a team lead by a researcher from the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Joan C. Han. The "sedentary lifestyles of children nowadays" have driven a need for new and better research on how much the "energy burned" end of the equation needs to change, Dr. Han's team wrote.

One thing the Lancet writers -- and U.S. physicians generally -- are not so keen on: bariatric surgery for kids. They call the risks of bariatric surgery for children "substantial" and point out that the long-term safety and effectiveness of such surgery "remain largely unknown." Accordingly, they said, it should be reserved for the most obese children, those with a BMI over 50 or for those with a BMI over 40 who already have weight-related complications such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, fatty liver or diabetes.

"Even then," they wrote, bariatric surgery should be "considered with extreme caution."

According to a study published this week in the Journal of Obesity Surgery, they are preaching, for the most part, to the choir on this point. In a national survey of family physicians and pediatricians, 48% said they would not ever refer an obese adolescent for bariatric surgery. Few physicians responded that children younger than 15 should be referred to a specialist to consider weight-loss surgery. And the physicians were slightly more likely to recommend surgery earlier to an extremely obese girl than to a boy.

A group of four hospitals led by Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center has been studying the circumstances under which bariatric surgery works best for children. Among their findings: that bariatric surgery significantly improved abnormalities in heart function.

--Melissa Healy

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Comments (7)

Its not that easy to lose weight. You never really know whats real and whats not on the web.

It was not until i found TheSlimWay.com that i began to lose alot of weight. They provided various products and reviews, aswell as discount on these various products.

I personally bought Proactol from TheSlimWay. They also have Alli which i know is made from Glaxo Smith Kline. This really gave me confidence in the slim way.

Anyway thats my 2 cents good luck everyone

It would still be best if it is done through healthy dieting and exercise...

surgery for kids for weightloss? it seems negligent at best when considering parents have control over what their kids eat--
our society is so weight obsessesed that 54% of women would rather be hit by a truck than be fat. check out the reasons why: http://www.curiousbee.com/original/fat_worse_than_hit_by_truck.htm

it is unfortuante so many people think extreme measures are favorable over behavioral changes (admittedly difficult in many cases). Viewing obesity as solely a weight issue rather than physical and psychological addiction to food dismisses the emotional component of getting to obesity that also must be dealt with--it should be viewed as the inverse of anorexia.

Oh how sad. I just read an article this morning that discussed how we can help our daughters have a positive body image and not suffer from eating disorders. There is just such a focus on weight and kids, even though I know there is an obesity epidemic - can we not just look more at health? I think that is the bottom line and much more positive than worrying our kids about weight. Our family tries so hard to eat whole foods, drink only water through the day and we take our Belly Boost probiotics to help our bodies to digest and process all of the nutrients in the best way. We are focusing on healthy eating and I so wish that society could help promote this idea more.

I am always shocked to hear about obese kids and believe in the true nature of humans - the desire to move, even if it needs to be stimulated in lots of cases.
So, in my eyes, not surgeries for obese kids should be suggested but new creative methods to boost the fun of kids with movements and socializing. That would be a sustainable method and success for the kids!

Weight loss surgery for kids!!! I think this article shows the emergency of fighting against obesity.

i think it's not good for kids to go for surgery... i wanna suggest parents that they should send them in field to play some games that helps in weight lose..... and than alos strict them to avoid junk food .....it is good for kids



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