A heavily weighted decision

Bariatric surgery has become a more common means for the general public to lose weight.
But, what about for adolescents?

Childhood obesity has increased sharply since the 1970s. While obese adolescents are more likely to suffer from a plethora of diseases into adulthood, one half of physicians still agree they would not recommend bariatric surgery to an adolescent patient. “We still have a lot to learn about the long term effects of bariatric surgery among adolescents,” said Susan Woolford, M.D., M.P.H, medical director of the Pediatric Comprehensive Weight Management Center at the University of Michigan.

But those who do support the procedure are more likely to do so because of the long-term health effects obesity has on adolescents. As a prerequisite for adolescent bariatric surgery, most physicians require their patients to participate in a monitored weight loss program, which allows the patient to make a stable decision and adopt healthier habits. How long adolescents will be able to sustain the weight loss and what the psychological outcomes will be are two questions that are still being explored.

Being a teen is hard enough with all its complexities, and bariatric surgery may offer a cure to a plague that has hit our nation hard. But, will the risks outweigh the benefits?

For more information, 734-615-3829 or visit www.med.umich.edu