In the past, weight loss surgery, was typically reserved for individuals who are over 18 years old and sometimes the requirements are much older than that. Now, as the whole world grows fatter, children are taking the blunt force of this trend. Today the rates of children who are obese are growing at an increasing rate, 18.1% of persons aged 12 to 19 are obese, up from 5% 28 years ago. This trend is alarming many in the medical field, as many bariatric surgeons are being inundated with requests from young persons to consider bariatric surgery.
Bariatric physicians are extremely reluctant to perform bariatric surgery on teens and adolescents as there are numerous risks and side effects from the procedure. Bariatric surgery is reserved, or should be, only for the extreme cases that require lifestyle modification and medical treatment. Typically from the cases that show the greatest sign of strenuous health risks.
Many teens want to jump right into bariatric surgery, but in many cases a referral from their primary care physician is required and most times hard to get. Thus, primary care physicians are an important piece of the puzzle.
In the spring of 2007 the results of a nationally administered survey regarding bariatric surgery and teens was published. Many family physicians and paediatricians responded to a survey regarding bariatric surgery and teens, and nearly half of the doctors (48%) said they would never recommend bariatric surgery for persons under 18. An overwhelming 99% of respondents said that children who are considering bariatric surgery should be enrolled in a monitored weight management program before surgery. The program will help define the extent of the obesity and whether that person is a satisfactory applicant for surgery. The theoretical program will last between three months and over five years, with the average stating that 12 months of monitored treatment was desired.
Options for Overweight and Obese Children
Unless you’re an extreme case, bariatric surgery will not be an option until you grow older, assuming you met all the requirements. Other options will be the more traditional approaches to obesity, which are exercise programs and dieting. Since physicians want to see candidates in monitored programs for about a year, their rationale is that with traditional forms of dieting and exercise, obese children will be able to lose weight. With mentoring, support and monitoring, overweight children should lose weight in the healthiest way possible.