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Bariatric surgery gains popularity among adolescents

Date: 09/20/2010
Contact: Amy Albin ()
Phone: (310) 794-8672

A new UCLA study finds that bariatric surgery- the surgical insertion of a band or other device, or partial removal of the stomach--is increasingly recognized as a way for morbidly obese adolescents to lose weight, and more of these patients are using the gastric banding method which has not been approved by the Federal Drug Administration for use in adolescents.

"The last trend study on use of bariatric surgery in adolescents was in 2003.  Since that time, the landscape of bariatric surgery in the United States has changed dramatically because of the increased use of gastric banding in adults," said study co-author Dr. Daniel DeUgarte, assistant professor of pediatric surgery and surgical director of the Fit for Healthy Weight Program at Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA.  "We wanted to determine if more adolescents were using gastric banding and evaluate any disparities in access to bariatric surgery."

In the study, "Trends and Outcomes of Adolescent Bariatric Surgery in California: 2005-2007," published in the October 2010 issue of Pediatrics, UCLA researchers reviewed the records of 590 adolescents, ages 13 to 20 years, who underwent bariatric surgery-either Laparoscopic Adjustable Gastric Banding (LAGB), or Laparoscopic Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass (LRYGB).

While not approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in children, the study showed that LAGB continues to gain popularity among adolescents, with the number of procedures jumping nearly sevenfold during the study period, from .3 per 100,000 to 1.5 per 100,000.  Meantime, LRYGB declined from 3.8 per 100,000 to 2.7 per 100,000.

The study also showed that whites and females disproportionally underwent bariatric procedures more often despite lower rates of being overweight when compared with nonwhites and males.  White adolescents girls, while representing 28 percent of overweight teens and young adults, underwent 65 percent of the procedures.

The study authors recommend long-term studies to fully assess the efficacy, safety and health care costs of these procedures in adolescents.

Additional UCLA authors include Dr. Howard C. Jen, Dr.  Diana G. Rickard, Dr. Stephen B. Shew, Dr. Melinda A. Maggard, Dr.  Wendy M. Slusser and Dr.  Erik P. Dutson.  The authors have no funding or financial relationships relevant to this article to disclose.