FRIDAY, Jan. 6, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Weight-loss surgery helps severely obese teens keep extra pounds off long-term, new research confirms.
However, the authors of the two new studies also found that some young people may need additional surgery to manage complications associated with their rapid post-surgery weight loss.
Some young patients may also develop nutritional deficiencies after their procedure, the researchers said.
These are the first long-term follow-up studies on teens that undergo weight-loss surgery, the researchers noted.
The findings “clearly document long-term benefits of adolescent bariatric [weight-loss] treatment, but also highlight several nutritional risks,” said lead author Dr. Thomas Inge of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.
“Now it is important to focus on delivery of the substantial health advantages of surgery while minimizing these risks,” Inge said in a news release from The Lancet Diabetes Endocrinology. The findings were published in the journal on Jan. 5.
According to background information in the study, some 4.6 million children and teens in the United States are severely obese — defined as roughly 100 pounds or more overweight.
Severe obesity leads to poor health and quality of life, which is why many of these teens are offered the option to undergo weight-loss surgery, the researchers explained.
In one of the new studies, researchers followed 58 young Americans between 13 and 21 years old who had one type of weight-loss surgery known as gastric bypass.
Eight years after surgery, these patients had an average weight reduction of 30 percent. Nearly two-thirds of the teens remained obese, though not severely so. The study showed that only one patient dropped down to a normal weight.
Among the teens who had weight-loss surgery, the number of those with diabetes, high cholesterol or high blood pressure dropped significantly. Along with these health benefits, however, 78 percent of the teens developed low levels of vitamin D, and 16 percent were deficient in vitamin B12. Mild anemia was diagnosed in 46 percent of these young people.
These nutritional deficiencies could stem from the fact that the teens were simply eating less, or they may be absorbing nutrients less well, the researchers explained.