Obesity Surgery in Children
Here are some facts from the CDC:
Childhood (persons under the age of 18 years) obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years.
The percentage of children aged 6–11 years in the United States who were obese increased from 7% in 1980 to nearly 18% in 2012.
Similarly, the percentage of adolescents aged 12–19 years who were obese increased from 5% to nearly 21% over the same period.In 2012, more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese.
Nearly two-thirds of these children will go one to be obese as adults.
These are very scary statistics. We, as a society, are going to have to deal with this problems for many years to come. The bariatric surgery community has recognized this problems for many years. Many programs have been started to reduce the prevalence of childhood obesity, but these may not be enough to change the fact that we have to do something about the obese children now. Is bariatric surgery performed in children? Yes. There are bariatric surgeons who perform weight-loss surgery in children. Personally, I do not perform these operations on children very often. The growth of the child at the time of surgery, their mental development, and their hormone levels are important variables to consider.
Ultimately, the child should be fully grown. We can check this with an x-ray of the hands to ensure the bones have fused. Once the child is fully grown, all current bariatric operations can be offered to them. The maturity of the child should be one of the greatest considerations. The child must be the one who wants the surgery. It is understandable that parents of these children want them to lose the wait. The parents are usually the ones who initiate the surgery consultation, but it must be the child who wants the operation. The desire to have surgery, and the dedication to its success is a critical component for the weight-loss surgery patient. If the child does not want the operation, forcing it upon them is not only considered assault but it is doomed to failure.
Finally, children going through puberty generally grow rapidly and their BMI’s will fall. Children who are mildly obese may fall below the criteria once they have matured fully. Many times, waiting until the child turns 18 is an appropriate thing to do. This is a very short discussion on this broad and important topic. If you want more information on this subject, then I recommend starting at http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/obesity/facts.htm.
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