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Teens and Weight Loss Surgery...hmmm

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Have you heard about the newly opened Center for Adolescent Bariatric Surgery with the Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of NewYork-Presbyterian? I just read about it today in a release on a service I get called Newswise. At this center teens have the option of losing weight with or without surgery. The surgery the center has chosen to use is laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding (LAGB) and is only available to patients 14 and over.

According to the director of the Center, Dr. Jeffrey L. Zitsman, LAGB was chosen "because it is completely reversible, it does not reroute patients' digestive anatomy, and the laparoscopic technique is minimally invasive." That's definitely good news that it's reversible but what happens when it is reversed?

There are currently around 50 teens in the program. The release didn't state how overweight or obese the teens have to be to be eligible for the surgery, but it does make reference to a BMI of 40 and above. In adults this is considered morbidly obese or extremely obese. Research in adults shows that in such obese individuals the risk of surgery is far less than their risk of continuing to be obese. So will this also prove to be the case in adolescents? Quite possibly but the data isn't there yet. Kids with a BMI of 40 and above don't often lose the weight or maintain weight loss, so is surgery the answer?

How do y'all feel about performing bariatric surgery on teens? I have pretty mixed thoughts. Being obese carries with it many risks and so does surgery. The reality is that prevention is probably the only way we are going to reverse the obesity epidemic because we just haven't figured out how to treat it adequately without significant risk.

But that's no help for those who are already in trouble. I want to hear your thoughts pro and con on this subject. Is this the answer for our obese teens?

I don't know if you can access the release on Newswise but here is the link just in case http://www.newswise.com/articles/view/525553/?sc=dwhn.

If not go to their website by clicking here.

Ok, now let's hear it!
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About the Author

Registered dietitian Andrea N. Giancoli is a nutrition advocate, consultant and educator.

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