Bariatric surgery is increasingly being considered for managing severe obesity in youth. Surgical interventions can lead to a substantial reduction in obesity and weight-related consequences, but many questions remain about the long-term effects on youths’ developing bodies and minds.
A recent editorial by Caroline Apovian in the The New England Journal of Medicine (pdf attached below) highlighted some emerging evidence, suggesting that the success of surgical interventions might be due (at least in part) to altering the physiological mechanisms of body-weight regulation, resulting in sustained weight loss. Apovian also highlighted evidence that surgery can provide relief from the physical, social, and psychological burden faced by many youth with severe obesity.
However, long-term follow-up is necessary to track surgery-related consequences (e.g., micronutrient adequacy) and other unanticipated complications. These data will be valuable for researchers, clinicians, and healthcare system administrators to make informed decisions with families about the potential benefits, risks, and timing of bariatric surgery for youth with severe obesity.