The obesity epidemic is a growing problem in both children and adults.
Weight loss surgery for teens is becoming more common, but how young is too young for bariatric surgery?
Amanda Rodriguez weighed almost 300 pounds, so she had gastric bypass surgery a day before her 17th birthday. Both her parents had it, too.
"In order for me to go to school which was high school, there were several flights up steps that i couldn't get up because i was so big so heavy,” Rodriguez said. “I needed an elevator key. It was really embarrassing."
Amanda was part of a study analyzing results of weight loss surgery in adolescents.
The University of Miami was the lead research site for this study which looked at 890 teens. 66 pounds was the average weight loss after one year.
Teens who had gastric bypass lost twice as much as those who got an adjustable band. But, there are still no long-term results.
"Why wait?” Pediatric researcher Dr. Sarah Messiah asked. “If you have a patient that is morbidly obese in their teenage years and there is an intervention available to help them have a healthier life as an adult, why not?"
While the rate of obesity in children continues to increase, many pediatricians and parents hesitate to choose weight loss surgery for teens.
U.M. Bariatric Surgeon Dr. Nestor De La Cruz Munoz sees it as a possible option for children.
"The youngest age I would do this operation? I'm not sure,” Munoz said. “If someone presented me with a 9 or 10-year-old that was severely morbidly obese, I would consider it."
Amanda has lost more than 100 pounds, is now a college student and says gastric bypass has improved her life.
"I'm able to walk around the campus and I'm able to go on school field trips and kind of interact with really cute guys,” Rodriguez said.
Medicaid paid for Amanda's surgery.
Doctors are hoping the results of this study will prompt more private insurance companies to cover the cost for teens.
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