Weight Loss Surgery: The Next Cure-all for Kids

FRESNO, Calif.

"I was 234 pounds," Allison Parker told Ivanhoe. "I was embarrassed to just walk out the door."

Name a diet... she tried it.

"I did the Atkins Diet, the South Beach Diet. I did fasting. I tried Slim Fast bars," Allison explained.

At just 16-years-old, Allison was on the verge of type 2 diabetes and was on meds for sleep apnea, acid reflux and depression.

"I knew it wasn't because I was born that way," Allison said. "I made myself that way."

Drastic weight loss surgery came at age 17.

"Do I think all kids should be offered bariatric surgery? No. Do I think bariatric surgery should be offered? Absolutely," Sayeed Ikramuddin, M.D., a professor of surgery from the University of Minnesota, told Ivanhoe.

Dr. Ikramuddin's team has operated on 64 kids. In a recent study of 50 teens, half went into a lifestyle fitness program; the others had gastric banding. Two years later, 12 percent of the lifestyle group lost more than half their body weight, while 84 percent of kids in the surgery group did the same.

There are questions: Which operation: banding or bypass? Are their long-term complications? Are teens mature enough to handle this?

"So it's prevention, prevention, prevention, but once you get there, you need to call a spade a spade, and you need to operate on these kids if they are psychologically stable," Dr. Ikramuddin told Ivanhoe.

Two years after her surgery, Allison dropped 60 pounds and all those meds.

"I might have been young, but I had adults behind me to steer me in the right direction," Allison said.

Doctors believe the body starts to repair itself as body weight decreases. Another recent study found about 85 percent to 90 percent of teens maintained their initial weight loss two years after gastric bypass surgery.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Nick Hansen University of Minnesota Public Relations Hans2853@umn.edu (612) 624-2449

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