Weight loss surgery ‘clear’ benefit for some kids

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Researchers have found that severely obese children who receive weight loss surgery have long-lasting overall health improvements.

New research has suggested that performing weight loss surgery in severely obese children could have positive outcomes for their overall health.

The yet to be peer reviewed study was conducted in Saudi Arabia over the course of 10 years, and involved more than 2500 participants between ages five and 21, NewsMedical reported.

Almost a third of the participants were under 15 at the time of their involvement, which is a far younger age group than what was examined in previous US studies.

The patients underwent sleeve gastrectomy between 2008 and 2021, but only after a failed six-month period of attempting weight loss through dietary changes and behavioural counselling.

Before the surgery, about one in 10 participants had Type 2 diabetes or abnormal lipids, with high blood pressure occurring in 15 per cent of participants.

Researchers found that paediatric participants maintained the positive results of the surgery seven to 10 years afterwards, sustaining an average of 71 per cent excess weight loss.

The Type 2 diabetes was completely resolved for seven in every 10 participants, while lipids and blood pressure normalised for more than 57 per cent of participants who previously had an issue.

Scientists also found that the children’s growth was unaffected by the surgery.

“If you surgically intervene early, you can cure children’s obesity-related diseases early and improve their quality of life, and if you wait longer, their diseases might become irreversible,” the study; s principal author Professor Aayed Alqahtani said.

‘Our findings present clear evidence that should remove hesitance to perform bariatric surgical treatment in children and young adolescents who could benefit from the operation.”

Prof Alqahtani said it was likely other elements of the study contributed to the ongoing health benefits experienced by participants including permanent access to follow-up care.

The surgeon also customised each gastric sleeve to suit each participant, and each patient’s family was involved in making sure the children complied with post-surgery after care.

The surgery involves the stomach being divided and part of it being removed, with remaining portions being stapled to create a banana-sized stomach.

Not only does the new shape allow smaller portions of food to enter, the surgeons also removed the stomach area responsible for stimulating appetite.

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