The obesity rate among teens has more than tripled in the past 30 years. Today, 18 percent are obese, which increases their risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke and dying young.
“Obese adolescents face a lifetime of long-term health problems related to their weight,” says Washington University bariatric surgeon Esteban Varela, MD, who directs the new program. “Bariatric surgery increasingly has become a viable treatment option for extremely obese teens who can’t lose weight by other methods.”
The comprehensive program includes the expertise of Washington University surgeons at Barnes-Jewish Hospital as well as a pediatric endocrinologist and a registered dietitian from St. Louis Children’s Hospital.
Like adults who undergo weight-loss surgery, adolescents must adopt lifelong changes in lifestyle and diet.
Research Varela had done before he joined the faculty at Washington University showed that bariatric surgery is as safe in adolescents as in adults and that adolescents have fewer complications resulting from the procedure than adults.