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Should the FDA Approve Weight Loss Surgery for Teens?

The obesity epidemic that exists in the United States is no secret. According to the CDC, in every one of the 50 states, at least 15 percent of the adult population is obese.

For children, the percentage goes up to 17. One solution that is specifically targeted at those individuals that qualify as morbidly obese — individuals with a BMI of at least 40 (a healthy BMI is considered to be between 18 and 24) — is bariatric surgery.

The two most popular types of weight loss surgery are gastric bypass surgery and laparoscopic gastric banding. It is laparoscopic banding that pharmaceutical company, Allergan, is pushing the FDA to approve for kids between the ages of 14 and 18.

Currently, any minor who undergoes laparoscopic (or “Lap-Band”) surgery must receive approval from their parent or legal guardian. The procedure entails the surgeon putting a silicone ring around the top of the stomach to limit the amount of food that you need to take in, in order to feel full.

Many argue that weight loss surgeries should be a last resort and are inappropriate and possibly harmful for teens. Others feel that if the procedure is FDA approved, it should be available to teenagers who are struggling with severe obesity.

So what do you think? Should the FDA approve the procedure for adolescents? Or is weight loss surgery too risky for teens?

We asked some of our readers, and here’s what they had to say:

Ashley B.
I think what’s best is for parents to stop with the excuses and feed their kids proper food! Kids will eat what you feed them. It’s horrible for a child (and in my opinion, even an adult) to get to the point that he or she needs the Lap-Band. No food tastes better than having good health feels.

Lisa M.
Wow — now they want children to subject themselves to this. Parents force their children to eat fast foods, let their children sit in the house and get no exercise, and then wonder why they are obese. Teach your children how to eat healthy and nutritious foods, let them get exercise and also be good role models for your kids!

Jessica M.
We were never meant to be “cut into.” I would never put my child in such a position. Send your kids out to play and stop buying junk for your kids at home. You can make a difference — we have a chance to start fresh with our children. Help them make good choices to break the cycle.

Mary T.
This is a hard one. I know that for adults in my state, insurance companies pretty much hold the reigns on at least what they pay for and under what circumstances. Some require previous interventions and approaches for some amount of time. The medical community that I have dealt with is also selective on qualifying candidates — mentally and physically — for the procedure. We all know that it is very often not the case. I guess I am okay with it as long as a very stringent set of medical requirements and guidelines are met. There are never any guarantees, and there is a slippery slope in most issues like this.

Sandrah G.
The best thing for any teen obese enough to qualify for the surgery would be a good nutritionist, a personal trainer, a healthy cooking class, and a good psychologist. Teach these kids how to change their lifestyle and maintain it — now and for the rest of their lives. Also, since most obese kids have obese parents and other family members, make it a family thing. Just changing the child won’t help if those responsible for them aren’t committed to a new lifestyle as well.

Aubree M.
I’m going to have to go with no on this one, even though I have pondered having the procedure myself. I don’t think I would qualify, but I have always struggled with weight. This surgery is not a quick fix. I know many people that have had both surgeries and have gained back the weight and have health problems due to vitamin deficiencies etc. The bottom line is portion control and exercise. I need to practice what I preach.

Donna A.
This is horrible. The entire family unit needs to be on board with a lifestyle change, which should include some counseling about where the initial behavior came from. We can all be responsible for breaking unhealthy cycles and saying, “it stops with me.” I have a client, and she and her family are all getting healthy and losing weight together. It’s a beautiful and inspiring thing to witness!

Rachael D.
As a nursing student, I’m seeing patients in the hospital with so many complications from this surgery. One patient told me that if they could turn back the hands of time, she would have NEVER done the surgery.

Susan H.
People want to hear there is a magic pill, and when I tell them I lost weight by eating properly and exercising, they lose interest. I heard recently that the FDA intends to approve the lap band for people who have as little as 30 pounds to lose, as well. I really think these procedures should be the last resort. Too many side effects over the long run.

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