Weight Loss Surgery Increasing in Popularity with Teens

Weight loss surgery is increasingly popular with teens. Does the rise in obesity among adolescents justify the risks?

Weight loss surgery rates rise for teensMore and more American teenagers are overweight or obese, according to health industry data, and many of them are choosing weight loss surgery.

A new study shows obesity rates for children and teenagers have tripled in the last 20 years. In the year 2000, about 200 teenagers underwent weight loss surgery. By 2003, the number was 800.

Although the weight loss surgery rate among young people is rising, some surgeons are hesitant to perform bariatric surgery on those under 18. Dr. James Lau of the University Medical Center of Southern Nevada said young people should wait until they are finished growing before having weight loss surgery. Once their bones are fully grown, he noted, the physical complications that come after surgery will be less harmful.

Other doctors disagree. They say stopping teenage obesity through surgery is a reliable way of preventing future health problems. In an interview with the Washington Post, Dr. Kurt Newman of Children’s National Medical Center in Washington said he once opposed weight loss surgery among teenagers … until seeing how rapidly the obesity rate has climbed.

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