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Bariatric surgery for teens delivers major health benefits: Study

Bariatric surgery for teens delivers major health benefits: Study - The longest study of teen obesity surgery has demonstrated huge weight loss, and health gains that can last at least three years, and many say it's worth the risks.

The new data is demonstrating more pronounced health benefits in young people than in adults, in particular a 95 percent reversal rate for diabetes. Studies have shown diabetes disappears 50-70 percent of the time following surgery in adults.

The surgery leads to an average weight decrease of more than 90 pounds, improved kidney health, reversal of type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure in many patients, according to a new study from 5 hospitals, including Nationwide Children?s.

The study included 3 years of data on 242 teenagers, mostly white girls, who weighed an average of 325 pounds. It appears in The New England Journal of Medicine and was discussed Friday at a medical conference on obesity in California.

However, the study has pointed some concerns, especially a rise in iron deficiency. Very few of the 13- to 19-year-olds had iron deficiency going into their operations. 3 years later, 57 percent did.

The researchers called for close monitoring of mineral and vitamin supplement use in children who opt for surgery. Additional surgeries, most often gallbladder removal, were necessary in 13 percent of the patients.

Moreover, abnormal kidney function was reversed 86 percent of the time, abnormal lipid levels were corrected 66 percent of the time and hypertension disappeared in 74 percent of patients who had high blood pressure.

Previous studies have demonstrated that about two percent of severely obese teenagers are successful shedding pounds and maintaining a healthy weight with lifestyle changes. An estimated 4.4 million teens and children in the US are severely obese.

Dr. Marc Michalsky, surgical director of Nationwide Children's Center for Health Weight and Nutrition, said kids who are having surgery are often in 99th percentile on growth charts, or have a BMI of 40 or greater.