Overweight Teens Seek Out Gastric Band Surgery

mellieb on 28 Sep 2010 at 11:11am

Parental mantras like “get off the couch and go play outside!” got a generation of children out of the living room and running around the yard, effectively ensuring they kept active and fit.

Looks like that may not be working as well nowadays.

One in three kids today is overweight. But instead of turning to the stalwarts of diet and exercise to regain health, a new option has seemingly emerged for some adolescents: gastric band surgery.

An increasing number of teens are opting for the surgery, according to a new study. UCLA scientists looked at the behaviors of a group of California teens ages of 13 to 20 and found that 590 of them elected to have gastric band procedures.

No one debates that gastric band surgery – which is not currently approved by the FDA for those under 18 – can be a lifesaver for those struggling with weight problems. But do teens view it as simply a shortcut to slim, and are they prepared for the mandatory life changes that accompany such procedures?

Says Dr. Otto Placik, Chicago plastic surgeon, “This is a difficult decision, and would be made on an individual basis.”

All non-surgical efforts should be made prior to pursuing surgical options, according to Dr. Placik. “However, if the morbid obesity condition presented a more immediate concern, then a lap band could be an option.”

He also notes, “Limiting food intake makes a lot more sense at a far lower cost and risk ratio.”

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