Weight-loss surgery offers long-term benefits to obese teens


Gastric bypass surgery helps “severely obese” teenagers shed weight and keep it off for years, according to research published on Jan. 6.

In two studies, one in the United States and the other in Sweden, young people who underwent the procedure were about 30 percent lighter five to 12 years after the operation, scientists found.

Negative side effects, including vitamin deficiencies and the need in some cases for follow-up surgery, were minor compared to health gains, scientists reported in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, a medical journal.

There were 58 patients in the U.S. cohort, and 81 in the Swedish one.

In the U.S. study, led by Thomas Inge of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, eight years after the operation the number of teenagers with diabetes had dropped from 16 percent to 2 percent, and those with high cholesterol fell from 86 percent to 38 percent.

The share with chronic high blood pressure also declined, by two-thirds.

Yet most of the patients remained at least “very obese,” and only one stabilized at a normal weight.

Gastric bypass involves reducing the stomach to below 3 percent of its natural volume, then connecting a new gastric pouch that bypasses the stomach and goes straight to the intestine.

In the Swedish study, led by Torsten Olbers of the University of Gothenburg, young patients undergoing the surgery were compared with obese teenagers who did not.

Five years later, the gastric bypass group were on average 28 percent lighter, while the other group had only shed a couple of percentage points from their body mass.