Is Weight-Loss Surgery The Right Option For Teens?

Like adults, overweight adolescents and teens are at risk for many more health problems than their normal-weight peers.

And under the Affordable Care Act, many families are considering new options when it comes to helping their kids battle obesity.

Yet for teens, drastic measures like weight-loss surgery may not be the best route.

A recent review from researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing found that kids may not be physically and emotionally ready for weight-loss surgery – or the measures required to follow the procedure with particular health habits.

"Weight-loss surgery, whether gastric bypass or gastric banding, is a serious undertaking that should be considered only when an adolescent has achieved close to full physical and emotional maturity," said Professor Shawna Mudd, DNP, CNP-AC, PNP-BC.

Weight-loss surgery presents other concerns

The study, entitled "Current guidelines for weight loss surgery in adolescents: A review of the literature," also found that younger teens and children may be at risk for malabsorption that could influence growth and development if they have weight-loss surgery.

The preparations required for such an undertaking, as well as adopting a new diet and lifestyle afterwards, may also be too much for young adults to take on.

More research into how adolescents comply with post-surgery guidelines would be helpful in understanding how teens cope best with this type of intervention, said Mudd.

"It's important that nurse practitioners and other primary care providers be aware of the pluses and minuses of current obesity surgery guidelines for children and youth when assisting families with appropriate decision making and counseling," she said.

Source: Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing

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