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Semin Pediatr Surg. 2009 Aug;18(3):176-85. doi: 10.1053/j.sempedsurg.2009.04.008.

How young for bariatric surgery in children?

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  • 1Division of Pediatric Surgery, Nationwide Children's Hospital, Columbus, Ohio 43206, USA.


Obesity affects 50% of adults and 18% of children in the USA. It has wide-ranging comorbidities with clinical, psychosocial, and economic ramifications. Obesity refers to a condition of excess body fat. The basis for weight gain is a fundamental imbalance between caloric intake and output, but individual variation based on genetics, metabolism, and diverse environmental triggers is seen. Although modifications to our obesogenic society and education about the risks in our environment may lead to a decrease in the incidence of obesity through prevention, treatment for those already obese is critically important. In adults, the most successful treatment programs for obesity include a surgical procedure. This article discusses the problems obesity presents to children and their families, highlights the unique aspects of treating obesity in children, reviews the currently utilized bariatric surgical procedures, and introduces those bariatric procedures that are under development. When considering whether to use bariatric surgical procedures in a multidisciplinary weight management program for children, the special needs and characteristics of children with a severe weight problem must be considered. Development of bariatric surgical techniques and devices and implementation of these tools in multidisciplinary weight management programs need greater attention. This will require the combined efforts of the pediatric health care providers from many specialties and partnerships with industry to facilitate discovery and implementation.

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