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.

Just Posted

Marriage proposal on the big screen at Enderby drive-in

Kelowna man gets engaged in front of hundreds to Vernon sweetheart

Vernon crash claims father

Family thanks emergency crews for assistance in traumatic incident

Vernon tattoo fundraiser draws record support

Lineup around the block for start and beginning of Five Fathoms Tattoo event for Children’s Hospital

Mainly sunny Victoria Day in Okanagan-Shuswap

The South Okanagan is the hottest spot to be in the province for Victoria Day

Vernon chamber members do not want overdose prevention site downtown

Chamber reps meet with Interior Health to discuss proposed site for Vernon

VIDEO: It’s warming up across the Okanagan Valley

Grey skies are expected to fade and the sun looks like it’s here to stay

Take-home drug testing kits latest pilot to help curb B.C.’s overdose crisis

Researchers look to see if fentanyl testing could be a useful tool for those who use drugs alone

Police watchdog investigating motorcycle crash in Kamloops

A Kamloops Mountie had stopped the driver for speeding, but they raced off from the 0fficer

Firefighters respond to bus fire on Highway 1

Smoke in coach bus reported to have been caused by overheating, driver and passengers safe

Facebook takes down anti-vaxxer page that used image of late Canadian girl

Facebook said that the social media company has disabled the anti-vaccination page

Search crews rescue kids, 6 and 7, stranded overnight on Coquitlam mountain

Father and two youngsters fall down a steep, treacherous cliff while hiking Burke Mountain

Letter: More cell towers, more radiation

The ever increasing electromagnetic radiation (EMR) is creating a hell-on-earth situation for… Continue reading

Okanagan Regional Library hosts famous author

Author of The Woo Woo, Lindsay Wong will be in Kelowna Tuesday

Most Read