Maybe exercise? Cutting the kids to fight fat.
Even some severely obese preteens should be considered for weight loss surgery, according to new recommendations.
The guidance issued Sunday by the American Academy of Pediatrics is based on a review of medical evidence, including several studies showing that surgery in teens can result in marked weight loss lasting at least several years, with few complications. In many cases, related health problems including diabetes and high blood pressure vanished after surgery.
While most of those studies involved teens, one included children younger than 12 and found no ill effects on growth, the policy says.
“Safe and effective is the message here,” said Dr. Sarah Armstrong, a Duke University pediatrics professor and the policy’s lead author.
Armstrong said children who have not gone through puberty may not be mature enough to understand the life-changing implications of surgery but that age alone shouldn’t rule it out. She doesn’t do surgery but works at a center that offers it; the youngest patient was 14.
It’s not a quick fix, she said. “It’s a lifelong decision with implications every single day for the rest of your life.”
Nearly 5 million U.S. children and teens are severely obese, a near doubling over 20 years. Many have already developed related health problems including diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea and liver disease. But most kids don’t get obesity surgery, mainly because most public and private health insurance doesn’t cover it or they live far from surgery centers, Armstrong said. Costs can total at least $20,000.
Again, living healthy is a lifelong decision, that involves no additional costs, no surgeries, and no risks. But, will Americans go for the obvious in the current year? Fat chance.