Young Hearts Helped by Weight Loss Surgery

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Young Hearts Helped by Weight Loss Surgery

A recent study presented at a meeting of the American Heart Association showed that bariatric surgery could reduce heart-disease risk factors in morbidly obese children in as little as six months. Researchers looked at 83 morbidly obese teens and followed 21 of them for two years after having bariatric surgery.

What did researchers learn about the effects of bariatric surgery in teenagers?

  • The average body mass index of the teens went from 58 before surgery to 38 two years later. The BMI of a person considered of normal weight ranges between 18.5 and 24.9.
  • The percentage of teen patients with structural heart abnormalities dropped from 49% before surgery to 24% two years after surgery.
  • Heart rate and blood pressure improved in teens after bariatric surgery.
  • The ability of the heart to relax improved within six months after surgery and persisted for two years. The inability of the heart to relax is an early precursor for heart disease.
  • Before surgery, all of the teens suffered from enlarged hearts. After six months, the condition had improved in all subjects. The condition remained improved after two years.

In addition to losing weight and having improved heart health, many teens noted an increase in general happiness after undergoing weight loss surgery. Losing weight often means being able to do and experience things they were missing out on before.

Average Weight Of Children Rising

Weight loss surgery has been proven to be an effective way to treat obesity in teenagers. Recent studies also showed that bariatric surgery helped improve heart health and reduce the risk for future heart disease in young patients. This news is especially important as the rate of childhood obesity continues to rise in the United States.

Researchers found that children, on average, weigh 11 pounds more than they did a decade ago. Average body mass index has risen from 18.1 to 19.9 in the same ten years. The study also showed that boys and African-Americans were at particularly heightened risk for obesity. As the rate of obesity rises, so does the risk for heart-health problems in children and teenagers, along with the risk for future heart complications as obese children grow into adulthood.

However, not every overweight teen is a good candidate for weight loss surgery. Bariatric surgery is reserved for teens who are morbidly obese, which for most people means being at least 100 pounds overweight or having a BMI of 40. In some cases, weight loss surgery is reserved for teens who are obese and show signs of a serious obesity-related health condition like diabetes.

Childhood obesity is a serious problem facing America today. Efforts should be made to prevent or reverse obesity with proper diet and exercise before health complications arise; however, in the cases of morbid obesity, weight loss surgery has been proven to be a safe and effective treatment option.

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