More adolescents in the U.S. are undergoing weight loss surgery, according to researchers with UTHealth Houston. The study was published in JAMA Pediatrics.
The number of metabolic and bariatric surgeries among young people ages 10 to 19 has been on the rise since 2016, but a new report shows that between 2020 and 2021, the number of weight loss surgeries among youth increased by nearly 20%.
Childhood obesity affects one in five children and teens, accounting for nearly 15 million adolescents between ages 2 and 19 in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“This analysis shows that families are making the decision to pursue bariatric surgery more frequently year-over-year, and among those from racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds in particular,” said Sarah Messiah, Ph.D., first author of the study and professor of epidemiology at UTHealth Houston School of Public Health. “This is an important finding given the disparities in cardiometabolic disease risk factors that disproportionately impact these groups.”
In the cohort study, researchers gathered data from 1,346,468 participants between the ages of 10 and 19 and adults over the age of 19 from the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program between the years 2015 and 2021.
Researchers found that in 2021, completion of metabolic or bariatric surgery increased from 182 to 258 in Black youths, from 179 to 273 procedures in Hispanic youths, and from 459 to 518 procedures among white youths.
Earlier this year, the American Academy of Pediatrics released new guidelines for the treatment of obesity, which recommends lifestyle changes as well as surgery and medications for adolescents.
“We were particularly interested in utilization trends after the American Academy of Pediatrics released a statement in late 2019 endorsing more access to surgery for adolescents for the first time. Our analysis suggests that these access channels are being utilized, and more frequently, even during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Messiah said.
Sarah E. Messiah et al, Use of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Among US Youth, JAMA Pediatrics (2023). DOI: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2023.0803
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