Weight-Control Surgery Surging Among Children, Teens, Report Says

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May 30, 2023 -- More children are getting surgical procedures to lose weight, according to a report published in JAMA Pediatrics on Tuesday.

Metabolic and bariatric surgeries have been on the rise among youths aged 10 to 19 since 2016, the report says. From 2020 to 2021, the number shot up by 19%.

The procedures change parts of the digestive system, helping the person feel more full and less hungry – thereby contributing to weight loss.

Among American children, obesity affects 20%, or 15 million people between 2 and 19. In addition, more are becoming afflicted with severe obesity, with a body mass index 20% higher than the marker for obesity.

“Behavioral lifestyle interventions alone do not result in long-term, clinically important weight loss among youth with severe obesity,” the study’s authors wrote. “Metabolic and bariatric surgery (MBS) is a safe and effective treatment.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics updated its guidelines for the treatment of obesity this year for the first time in 15 years, CNN reported. “The new guidelines urge prompt use of behavior therapy and lifestyle changes and, for the first time, recommend surgery and medications for some young people,” CNN wrote.

Black and Hispanic children have higher rates of childhood obesity, the CDC says. Use of surgeries rose 42% among Black youths and 53% among Hispanic youths between 2020 and 2021.

Show Sources

JAMA Pediatrics: “Use of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Among US Youth.”

CNN: “Weight-loss surgery is becoming more common among children and teens, new research shows.”

CDC: “Prevalence of Childhood Obesity in the United States.”

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