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Weight-Loss Surgery for Teens May Be Gaining Advocates
Date:10/8/2010

By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Oct. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Weight-loss surgery may be gaining traction as a viable treatment for obese teenagers, particularly those who are beginning to show the detrimental health effects of morbid obesity.

Teen obesity has become a serious public health concern in the United States, with recent research finding that nearly one in every four teenagers is obese, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Despite this, doctors have been loath to perform weight-loss surgery -- also called gastric bypass and bariatric surgery -- on teenagers, though it's become a common and effective method of weight loss in adults.

But new studies evaluating the merits of weight-loss surgery for teenagers have provided fresh evidence that such a drastic step may be needed to head off a lifetime of obesity and illness.

"There's certainly a feeling among health-care providers and families that little Johnny is really getting heavier and heavier, but all he needs to do is put his mind to it and he can reverse this," said Dr. Thomas Inge, director of the Center for Bariatric Research and Innovation at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. "But that is clearly not working for some kids. Until you bring up the option of bariatric surgery for those patients, you haven't done your job as a doctor."

Inge served as lead author on a study that argued for the use of weight-loss surgery earlier rather than later in children who are becoming "super obese." The study of 61 teens found that kids with an incredibly high body mass index (BMI) lost more than one-third of their weight after gastric bypass but were still heavy enough to be considered morbidly obese. BMI is a measurement that takes into account weight and height.

"We are seeing patients still in 2010 who are coming to us routinely with a BMI of the high 50s and 60s and 70s," Inge said. "Whe
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