Pediatrics

Pediatric Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery: Evidence, Barriers, and Best Practices

Severe obesity among youth is an “epidemic within an epidemic” and portends a shortened life expectancy for today’s children compared with those of their parents’ generation. Severe obesity has outpaced less severe forms of childhood obesity in prevalence, and it disproportionately affects adolescents. Emerging evidence has linked severe obesity to the development and progression of multiple comorbid states, including increased cardiometabolic risk resulting in end-organ damage in adulthood. Lifestyle modification treatment has achieved moderate short-term success among young children and those with less severe forms of obesity, but no studies to date demonstrate significant and durable weight loss among youth with severe obesity. Metabolic and bariatric surgery has emerged as an important treatment for adults with severe obesity and, more recently, has been shown to be a safe and effective strategy for groups of youth with severe obesity. However, current data suggest that youth with severe obesity may not have adequate access to metabolic and bariatric surgery, especially among underserved populations. This report outlines the current evidence regarding adolescent bariatric surgery, provides recommendations for practitioners and policy makers, and serves as a companion to an accompanying technical report, “Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery for Pediatric Patients With Severe Obesity,” which provides details and supporting evidence.

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