More Kids Who are Severely Obese Should Have Weight-loss Surgery, Pediatricians Say

More Kids Who are Severely Obese Should Have Weight-loss Surgery, Pediatricians Say

Even some preteens who are severely obese should be considered candidates for weight-loss surgery, according to new recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Recent data show that pediatric obesity surgery rates have tripled in almost 20 years, but they still average fewer than 2,000 operations each year.

The academy’s recommendations say children and teens could be eligible for surgery if their body mass index is 40 or higher, or if they have related major health problems and their BMI is at least 35. (A BMI of 30 or above is considered obese.) These criteria may vary by gender and age, Armstrong said.

The pediatricians’ guidelines are similar to criteria for surgeons from the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.

Faith Newsome was a typical patient. At 5 feet, 8 inches and 273 pounds, her BMI was almost 42 and she had high blood pressure and prediabetes when she had gastric bypass surgery at Duke at age 16.

After about a year, she had shed 100 pounds and those health problems disappeared. She slimmed down enough to become active in sports, shop for prom dresses and gain a better self-image. But to avoid malnutrition she takes vitamins, must eat small meals and gets sick if she eats foods high in fat or sugar. Her BMI, at just under 30, puts her in the overweight range.

Now 21 and a senior at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, Newsome is quick to answer whe ther she has regrets. “Never,” she said. “Teens should be able to discuss every option with their doctors, and surgery should be one of those options.”

Contributor: Associated Press

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