Obesity in children and teens is a serious health problem. About 1 in 6 children in the U.S. are obese.
A child who is overweight or obese is more likely to be overweight or obese as an adult.
Children with obesity have health problems that used to be seen only in adults. When these problems begin in childhood, they often become worse in adulthood. A child who is overweight or obese is also more likely to have problems such as:
Many adults who have weight-loss surgery are able to lose a large amount of weight. This weight loss can have health benefits such as:
In the United States, gastric bypass operations have been used with success in teenagers. After any weight-loss surgery, your child will:
Adjustable gastric banding is another type of weight-loss surgery. But it is not yet approved for teenagers in the United States.
Both gastric bypass and gastric banding are performed through 5 - 6 small cuts on the belly. This is known as laparoscopic surgery.
Most children who have weight-loss surgery also have health problems that are related to the extra body weight.
The body mass index (BMI) measures below are used by many doctors to decide who can be helped the most by weight-loss surgery. But not all doctors agree about this. The general guidelines are:
A BMI of 35 or higher and a serious health condition related to obesity, such as:
A BMI of 40 or higher and a less serious health condition related to obesity, such as:
Other factors should also be considered before a child or teenager has weight-loss surgery.
Children who have weight-loss surgery should receive care at an adolescent bariatric surgery center. There, a team of experts will give them the special care they need.
The studies that have been done on bariatric surgery in teens show these operations are as safe for this age group as for adults. However, too little research has been done to show if there are any long-term effects on growth for teens that undergo weight loss surgery.
Teenagers‘ bodies are still changing and developing. They will need to be careful to get enough nutrients during the period of weight loss following surgery.
Gastric bypass surgery changes the way some nutrients are absorbed. Teens that have weight-loss surgery will need to take certain vitamins and minerals for the rest of their life.
Updated by: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.