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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Clover Valley Beer Festival cancelled

Cloverdale beer fest falls victim to COVID-19

After delay, ‘Metro Vancouver’s Largest Indoor Amusement Park’ set to open in Surrey

At Central City Fun Park, ‘things will be a little different than what we had originally planned’

COVID-19: Daily update on pandemic in Surrey, White Rock and beyond

JUNE 3: Threat of fines quashes South Surrey seniors’ daily workouts

As thrift store aims to reopen, Surrey Hospice Society struggles to raise funds

‘Right now I think people are suffering grief more than they ever have’

South Surrey seniors home ends outdoor class after complaints from neighbour

‘Everybody has a right, and they don’t have a right to infringe on us,’ a neighbour said

B.C. records four new COVID-19 cases, Abbotsford hospital outbreak cleared

Four senior home outbreaks also declared over, eight still active

As two B.C. offices see outbreaks, Dr. Henry warns tests don’t replace other measures

Physical distancing, PPE and sanitizing remain key to reduce COVID-19 spread

Young killer whale untangles itself from trap line off Nanaimo shore

DFO marine mammal rescue unit was en route as whale broke free from prawn trap line

Racist incident shocks Vancouver Island First Nation

Port Alberni RCMP investigating after video shows truck wheeling through Tseshaht territory

Help the ‘Cloverdale Reporter’ continue its mission to provide trusted local news

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

Vancouver Island school principal mourns brother, cousin killed during U.S. protests

Jelks says he’s grateful for the outpouring of support from the community in the wake of this tragedy

Bank of Canada keeps key interest rate target on hold at 0.25%

Central bank now expects GDP to decline between 10 and 20 per cent compared with the fourth quarter of 2019

RCMP, coroner investigate murder-suicide on Salt Spring Island

Two dead, police say there is no risk to the public

B.C. schools see 30% of expected enrolment as in-class teaching restarts amid pandemic

Education minister noted that in-class instruction remains optional

Most Read