Weight Loss Surgery in Adolescents

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Abstract

Childhood obesity continues to be a national health problem, with growing numbers of adolescents (8.7%) affected by severe obesity and its associated cardiometabolic risks. Since current nonsurgical methods for treating these adolescents have only modest effects, weight loss surgery (WLS) is an alternative treatment. An overview of the literature was conducted describing the selection, management, and outcomes of adolescents undergoing WLS. Adolescent guidelines require physical and emotional maturity as well as serious comorbidities associated with body mass index cutoffs higher than those used for adults. Medium-term to long-term outcomes are similar to those of adults undergoing WLS. Such outcomes depend on management by a multidisciplinary team with expertise in caring for adolescents who are still developing psychosocially and who are relatively more dependent on family supports for continued care. Future exploration is needed to elucidate optimal surgical indications for adolescents, improved adherence to postoperative care, and the impact of WLS on life expectancy. Resulting evidence can better inform the direction for healthcare delivery and policy directed toward this at-risk population.

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