(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – Over the past decade bariatric surgery has continued to gain acceptance as a safe and effective treatment strategy for teens struggling with severe obesity. A new report from the Teen-Longitudinal Assessment of Bariatric Surgery (Teen-LABS) study, a multi-centered NIH study including patients from Nationwide Children’s Hospital, finds that having bariatric surgery during adolescence results in drastic reductions of risk factors that are widely known to be associated with the development of heart disease later in life. Almost all of the 242 patients studied had high blood pressure, abnormal glucose levels, increased inflammation or high cholesterol before surgery, but three years after surgery, less than half of them had any of these risk factors.
“These patients can go forward into adulthood and have a lower chance of developing cardiovascular disease that could ultimately result in things like heart attacks and strokes,” said Marc Michalsky, MD, Surgical Director at Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s Center for Healthy Weight and Nutrition and the lead author of the current study published this month in the journal Pediatrics. “Younger patients, even within a group of teenagers, saw better results and were more likely to get issues like high cholesterol under control after surgery than older patients within the same study group.”
Michalsky says that most teens who are candidates for bariatric surgery have more than one of the cardiovascular risk factors studied. In fact, a third of the study participants had three or more of them. However, the number of patients with multiple risk factors after three years was reduced by about 85%.
For teens that have more than 100 pound to lose, bariatric surgery can give them a much better chance of sustained weight loss and a healthier future. Michalsky says teens and their parents should have a thorough discussion with their doctor to consider bariatric surgery as an option. “Lifestyle changes like diet and exercise are very important,” said Michalsky. “But they’re often not enough on their own to prevent the serious health consequences of severe obesity.”
Teen-LABS is a multi-center clinical study funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that is examining the safety and health effects of surgical weight loss procedures in the adolescent population. This ongoing study is being conducted at five clinical centers in the U.S., including Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Texas Children’s Hospital, the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. The study’s Chair, Thomas H. Inge, MD, PhD, is located at Children’s Hospital Colorado, Denver, CO.