Some teens in the study say they can no longer tolerate certain foods, including sugar, meat or dairy products.
Most teens had gastric bypass or stomach stapling, which creates a small pouch in the stomach and attaches it to the intestines. A handful had gastric band operations, in which surgeons position an adjustable band around the top of the stomach, and inflate it to shrink the stomach. This operation has not been approved for U.S. teens.
Inge, a pioneer in obesity surgery in teens, says he does about 30 to 40 operations each year at Cincinnati Children’s and the numbers have increased slightly in recent years.
Kids must be severely obese to qualify. But many are so large that even when surgery results in substantial weight loss and better health, they can’t shrink their BMI to below the obese range, Inge said. That underscores the need to find ways to prevent severe obesity, he said.
University of Colorado heart specialist Dr. Robert Eckel, an American Heart Association spokesman, said the study shows obesity surgery should be considered a reasonable approach for kids, but that the study results may represent a best-case scenario, since surgeons involved were all highly experienced.
Parents seeking obesity surgery for their teens should have them evaluated in centers that do lots of these operations, he said.