It is no secret that obesity is an epidemic in the United States. More than 93 million Americans—that’s nearly 40 percent—were overweight or obese in 2015 and 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
And, if you think children and teens are immune to obesity, think again. One in five teens between the ages of 12 and 19 are obese.
Obesity is the top cause of preventable death, resulting in more life-years lost than even smoking. It increases the risks of a host of diseases—some deadly—including:
- Heart disease
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Some cancers
- Fatty liver disease
- Kidney disease
If you are overweight or obese, it is never too late to start getting healthy…or too early.
Bariatric Surgery for Teens and Adolescents
There are multiple guidelines for bariatric surgery in teens and adolescents. Patient selection is one of the most important parts, and most teens must meet fairly rigorous criteria to be considered for bariatric surgery. Some of these include:
- A high body mass index (BMI) of 40 or more
- Fully grown or nearly so
- Failed at least six months of conservative weight loss attempts
- Pass a psychological screen
- Have an obesity-related condition such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension or obstructive sleep apnea
The US Preventive Services Task Force recommends screening for obesity in children and adolescents.
In 2018 American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery published guidelines in pediatric weight loss surgery and concluded that metabolic and bariatric surgery is a proven, effective treatment for severe obesity disease in teenagers and adolescents and should be considered standard of care.
Pediatricians and primary care providers should recognize that children with severe obesity should be referred to a center with advanced treatments and support as soon as possible.
Healthy Weight for Teens
Bariatric surgery is the most effective method for long-term weight loss, but there are many other tactics people can use to lose weight if they do not want or do not qualify for weight loss surgery. Candidates for bariatric surgery must generally meet one of the following requirements:
- A BMI of 40 or more
- A BMI of 35 or more, plus an obesity-related health condition such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes or obstructive sleep apnea
BMI is a ratio of height to weight. Use the BMI calculator on our home page to determine yours. Calculating BMI is different for children and teenagers, but teenagers with a BMI greater than 30 are likely obese.
Teens who want to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight should start in much the same way as adults: getting plenty of activity and moderating food intake. The CDC recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. A food diary or app such as MyFitnessPal can help teens estimate and limit the number of calories they consume every day.
If you or a loved one wants to lose weight and may be a candidate for bariatric surgery, request an appointment at Advanced Laparoscopic Associates today.