About 70 percent of obese teens grow up to be obese adults. Many are turning to surgery, but is it safe?
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Casey Taylor: Jen Cox never thought she'd wear a prom dress. Jen Cox: I thought you know what prom night; I'm going to be alone in front of the TV eating ice cream. Casey Taylor: Nine months the high school senior, tipped the scales at 291 pounds. Jen Cox: Add one of my friends on to me, and that was me. Casey Taylor: Jen tried dieting but family dinners and fast foods joints kept her from losing weight, and then her parents had gastric bypass surgeries. Jen Cox: It's kind of like, this might be something that I want to do. Casey Taylor: After seeing her parents lose weight, Jen decided to get to surgery. Most people lose 50% to 80% of their excess weight in two years. The surgery makes the stomach the size of a thumb. Jen Cox: You take a medicine cap and that's what you can eat. Casey Taylor: The obesity rates for children and teens have tripled in the past twenty years, the number show they are increasingly turning to surgery. About two hundred teens had bariatric surgery in 2000, three years later the number jump to 800. James Lau: We need to track patient's long term, see how they do through out life. Casey Taylor: Complications from gastric bypass include infection, painful swelling and heart problems. Dr. Lau says the surgery should not be performed on teens until their bones are done growing. James Lau: You look great, your eating and everything else is okay. Jen Cox: Yeah. Casey Taylor: She lost 97 pounds in nine months; those daily walks mean she won't have to miss out on teenage traditions. Jen Cox: I just brought my prom dress like two weeks ago. Casey Taylor: This is Casey Taylor, reporting.