American Academy of Pediatrics encourages bariatric surgery for obese youth

The American Academy of Pediatrics released a policy statement Oct. 27 in support of greater access to metabolic and bariatric surgery for children and adolescents with severe obesity.

The statement describes severe obesity among children and adolescents as an "epidemic within an epidemic." Recent data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey shows that the rate of severe obesity among youth is 7.9 percent, about double that of 1999.

While lifestyle changes have helped children with less severe obesity, those strategies have not been as effective among those with severe obesity. Studies have shown that bariatric surgery has resulted in significant long-term reductions in weight and chronic comorbidities.

The academy recommends pediatricians not set arbitrary age limits for bariatric surgery. Instead, the group is urging physicians to consider metabolic and bariatric surgery for any patient with severe obesity who meets the criteria for surgery.

The academy also recommends that pediatricians, governmental agencies, medical centers and insurers work on strategies to reduce barriers to pediatric metabolic and bariatric surgery.

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