Colours Filtered Through the Mist

Filtered News on Bariatric Surgery for Teens

It’s been interesting to watch reporting on a landmark study of bariatric surgery for teens ripple through the media. The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, documents rather dramatic benefits for bariatric surgery in adolescents with severe obesity. Three years after the surgery, type 2 diabetes was reversed in 95% of teens who had it before the study. Abnormal kidney function was reversed in 86% of them. Quality of life was significantly better, as Miranda Taylor, a nursing student who was in the study, explains:

I feel awesome. It’s like a new life. I knew that this might not get me down to like model-size, which I wasn’t concerned about. I just wanted to be able to fit into a healthy size.

And yet, the Associated Press apparently felt compelled to find fault with the study, saying that “it lacked a comparison group” and “similar results could be achieved with extremely intensive programs.” They even went so far as to describe surgery as having a “quick-fix” appeal.

Such nonsense is no substitute for fair balance. Controlled studies are inherently problematic in this setting. But there’s no data to support a claim that similar results are realistic expectations from behavioral treatment of adolescents with such severe obesity. And anyone who has considered or experienced bariatric surgery will tell you that it’s anything but a quick (or easy) fix.

Maybe this kind of judgmental clucking about bariatric surgery is fading, but it’s still way too common. People whose health is severely threatened by obesity should not be demeaned if they need surgery — whether they are adults or teens

Surgery is not a desperate last resort. It’s evidence-based care for a serious disease. It can be life saving and life changing. Scolds should butt out.

Click here to read the study, here to read the AP reporting, and here to read more from Medscape.

Colours Filtered Through the Mist, photograph © Broo_am (Andy B) / flickr

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November 19, 2015

One Response to “Filtered News on Bariatric Surgery for Teens”

  1. November 19, 2015 at 7:41 am, Allen Browne said:



    Lack of knowledge.

    We have a lot of work to do.