An Australian study released this week suggests that bariatric surgery procedures like Gastric Banding can effectively lower the BMI of adolescents by an average 37%.
As the number of obese adolescents rises, bariatric surgery is increasingly being turned to as a treatment method to reduce the health problems caused by obesity and prevent further health problems as the adolescents age. Studies show that children and adolescents with above average body mass index before adulthood are more at risk of morbid obesity in adulthood and are at increased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and other obesity related health problems. Bariatric surgey options can help adolescents reduce their weight to within a normal range and stave off health complications later in life.
Bariatric surgery for adolescents is controversial. Opinion is divided as to whether the psychological effects of surgery could be detrimental to the teenager, if surgery is indeed necessary and if the benefits of surgery outweight the risks involved. There is no set minimum age for bariatric surgery, however most clinics will not operate on teenagers under the age of 14 and a thorough psychological analysis is made of each patient to ensure they are mentally able to understand the complexity of surgical procedures such as Gastric Banding and Gastric Bypass Roux-En Y. In a recent study, 46% of bariatric surgeons believed that the minimum age should be 18 and 48% of surgeons would not refer adolescents for weight loss surgery.
Reducing the BMI of an obese patient by 37% is a significant health benefit and as a result of the Australian study more research into bariatric surgery and adolescents is expected.
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