More and more teens going under the knife to cut weight

More and more teens going under the knife to cut weight

Most of the patients are white girls, although they make up less than half of overweight youth, researchers say.

From 2005 to 2007, they found rates of so-called gastric banding, in which a silicone band is placed around the top portion of the stomach to restrict food intake, rose five-fold.

However, use of gastric bypass — which surgically reduces the size of the stomach — dropped, leaving the overall rate of weight-loss procedures constant.

Despite not being approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in adolescents younger than age 18, gastric banding overtook gastric bypass as the most frequently performed weight-loss procedure in this age group, Dr Daniel DeUgarte and colleagues from the University of California, Los Angeles, report in the journal Pediatrics.

This increase in the use of gastric banding, they note, occurred during a time at which there was a significant increase in the intensity of marketing and propensity to use the procedure in morbidly obese adults. They add that gastric bypass remains the “gold standard” of weight-loss surgery, and that some medical centres have found poor long-term results with gastric banding.

Among the 590 California youths between 13 and 20 years of age who underwent weight-loss procedures over three years, no one died and the rate of in-hospital complications were comparable at less than six per cent. Gastric banding leapt from 0.3 per 100,000 youth to 1.5, whereas bypass surgery decreased from 3.8 per 100,000 to 2.7. Hospital stay was less than a day with the first procedure, and more than two with the second.

While white people account for over a quarter of overweight adolescents in California, they made up about two-thirds of those who had surgery. There could be many reasons for these findings, according to the researchers, who note that only severely obese people who have failed diet and exercise programmes are considered for weight-loss surgery.

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