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Int J Obes (Lond). 2007 Jan;31(1):1-14.

Bariatric surgery for pediatric extreme obesity: now or later?

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  • 1Division of Pediatric and Thoracic Surgery, Comprehensive Weight Management Program, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH, USA.


Obesity is a multifactorial disease of epidemic and global proportions that poses the most significant threat to the health of our younger generations. Those who are the most extremely affected bear the largest burden of health problems. In the US, extreme obesity affects approximately 9 million adults and 2 million children, and is associated with both immediate health problems and later health risk, including premature mortality. Present medical and behavioral interventions for extreme obesity in adults and children rarely result in the significant, durable weight loss necessary to improve health outcomes, prompting a search for more aggressive measures. Weight loss (bariatric) surgery has been advocated as an intervention for those with extreme obesity. In adults, bariatric surgery results in prolonged weight control and improvement in serious obesity comorbidities, namely type 2 diabetes, dyslipidemias, hypertension and obstructive sleep apnea syndrome. A surge in weight loss operations for adolescents has been observed recently, with a threefold increase in case volumes nationwide from 2000 to 2003. Current evidence suggests that after bariatric surgery, adolescents lose significant weight and serious obesity-related medical conditions and psychosocial status are improved. Thus it is reasonable to propose that bariatric surgery performed in the adolescent period may be more effective treatment for childhood-onset extreme obesity than delaying surgery for extremely obese youth until adulthood. This position has been echoed by a number of groups and an independent systematic review. Finally, it is conceivable that bariatric surgery performed in adulthood for childhood onset extreme obesity may not be as effective for comorbidity treatment as surgery performed earlier during adolescence. The purpose of this review is to examine the evidence, which supports early rather than later use of bariatric surgery in the treatment of extreme obesity, and to present this information in light of the medical and surgical risks of bariatric surgery.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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