Obesity surgery benefits may be bigger for teens than adults

Dr. Thomas Inge at the University of Colorado wanted to know when it’s best to have surgery

Teens who have obesity surgery lose as much weight as those who have the operation as adults and are more likely to have other health problems such as diabetes and high blood pressure go away, a study finds.

The results suggest there’s a benefit from not waiting to address obesity. Researchers say longer study is still needed to know lifetime effects of this radical surgery and that it’s a personal decision whether and when to try it.

The study was published Thursday by the New England Journal of Medicine and presented at the Combating Childhood Obesity conference in Houston. The National Institutes of Health paid for it, and some researchers consult for makers of obesity surgery tools.

The damaging effects of obesity accumulate, and the risk of developing other diseases and dying prematurely rises the longer someone goes. Surgery is usually reserved for people who can’t lose enough weight through other means — diet, exercise and sometimes medicines — and are severely obese.

Researchers led by Dr. Thomas Inge at the University of Colorado wanted to know whether it’s better or safer to have it in mid-life, the most common time now, or sooner before many of those other health problems appear or do much harm.

They compared results from two studies of gastric bypass surgery, which creates a much smaller stomach pouch, in 161 teens and 396 adults who had been obese since they were teens. Five years after their operations, both groups had lost 26% to 29% of their weight.

Diabetes went into remission in 86% of teens and 53% of adults who had that disease before their operations; high blood pressure did the same in 68% of teens and 41% of adults. Some side effects were more common in teens, and they were twice as likely to need a second operation.

One troubling finding: Although about 2 per cent of each group died, two of the teens did so from drug overdoses, suggesting substance abuse and self-harm may be a concern.

Overall, the results are consistent with an earlier study comparing teens and adults, Ted Adams of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City wrote in a commentary in the journal.

“Almost 6% of adolescents in the United States are severely obese, and bariatric surgery is now the only successful, long-term treatment option” for them, he wrote.

Most obese teens stay obese as adults, and adults who were obese as teens have worse health than people who started to weigh too much at an older age, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right choice to have surgery earlier than later, he warned.

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Marilynn Marchione, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

KUTE expands service to accept paper products

Prior to May 23 the facility had only been accepting cardboard since it reopened on April 22

COVID-19 highlights lack of connectivity in First Nations communities

Many don’t have access required to utilize online platforms, says First Nations Technology Council

Salmon closures announced for Skeena and Nass watersheds

DFO notice expands on May 21 chinook ban throughout Skeena watershed

Locals getting good grades when it comes to social distancing: RCMP

The local detachment said the public has been responsible with adhering to COVID-19 practices

VIDEO: Injured bald eagle rescued in B.C. First Nations community

Bird suspected injured in fight, whisked off to Coquitlam rehab

Toronto Raptors’ Ujiri says conversations about racism can no longer be avoided

Thousands have protested Floyd’s death and repeated police killings of black men across the United States

‘I’m afraid’: Witnesses of wolf attack on senior near Prince Rupert worried about safety

Frank Russ shows where the unprovoked wolf attacked his father

Protesters prepare to rally against racism in front of Vancouver Art Gallery

Rally is in response to the deaths of black Americans and a Toronto woman

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

Protesters rally against anti-black, Indigenous racism in Toronto

Police estimated the crowd to be between 3,500 and 4,000 and said there was no violence

Feds earmark $1.5M to support recovery of B.C., Indigenous tourism

B.C. money will be split between Vancouver Island and Indigenous tourism

‘We’re sick of it’: Anger over police killings shatters U.S.

Tens of thousands marched to protest the death of George Floyd

Most Read