Two recent studies show that teenagers can safely resort to gastric bypass surgery to overcome their obesity. Patients were followed for 5 to 12 years after being operated upon. The rates of diabetes, high cholesterol, and hypertension all were reduced significantly.

Although the results were promising for achieving a significant reduction in corporal mass, some patients had low levels of vitamin D, and B12, while others were diagnosed with mild anemia.

People with severe obesity have a body mass index or BMI of 40 or more. Photo credit: Roos Koole via Getty Images / The Huffington Post
People with severe obesity have a body mass index or BMI of 40 or more. Photo credit: Roos Koole via Getty Images / The Huffington Post

A viable solution for losing weight fast and safely

Gastric bypass surgery is a procedure where the stomach is divided and reconnected in such a way to reduce its volume, limiting the amount of food that can be ingested and an overall alteration of how the body reacts to the ingestion of edibles. It is often prescribed to treat severe obesity and diabetes. It results in a pronounced weight loss, and the mortality and complication rates of the surgery have been steadily reduced over time as the procedure becomes more common.

People with severe obesity have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or more, which is equivalent to 100 pounds overweight. To calculate the body mass index, one has to divide a person’s weight in kilograms by its height squared in meters, or by using this calculator.

Currently, there are at least 4 million children and teens in the U.S. suffering from severe or morbid obesity, which can cause diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and even impaired movement. The studies showed that gastric bypass surgery allowed the patients to reduce their weight significantly during the following years.

Studying whether gastric bypass is effective in teens

The first set of observations had 58 American teens aged from 13 to 21, classified as morbidly obese and being subjected to a gastric bypass procedure. In average, their BMI was reduced from 59 down to 36 after one year. After eight years the average resided at 42, equivalent to a 30 percent reduction in weight. Even if the results appeared promising, most of the participants remained obese.

The rates of teen diabetes dropped from 16 to 2 percent, while high cholesterol and hypertension rates fell 52 and 31 percent respectively. On hindsight, 39 patients suffered from low levels of vitamin D, and 25 suffered from mild anemia. Researchers suggest that these side effects may come from the reduced food consumption and the inability of their digestive tract to absorb all the nutrients.

The second study had 81 obese teens and 81 adults, with an average BMI of 45 and 43 respectively, all of them being subjected to gastric bypass surgery. They were compared to 80 teens who were not operated upon. The study yielded similar results, where the teens and adults who had undergone surgery saw their BMI reduced, while those that did not have a gastric bypass procedure increased their BMI by three points in average. 20 of the teens that underwent surgery suffered from complications, these being primarily gallstones and bowel blockage.

Researchers concluded that the benefits greatly surpass the side effects, which are easily manageable, as a healthy weight and body mass index are critical for the development of a person while in its teenage years.

Source: The Lancet