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Teen Obesity and Weight Loss Surgery Options

The frequency of being overweight in children, adolescents, and teenagers has increased dramatically in recent years. Nearly one-third of youth are either overweight or obese.

What Contributes to Excess Weight and Obesity Among Teens?

Excess weight and obesity in teenagers represents the combination of environmental, cultural, economic, and genetic risk factors.

Sweetened drinks, fast food, snack foods, a lack of physical activity, and an overabundance of sedentary behaviors all contribute to the problem.

Genetics determines a significant portion of an individual’s weight. However, we cannot change our genes, but can change our habits and environment.

Health Consequences of Teen Obesity

Health consequences of obesity in teens and adolescents include:

Minimally Invasive Bariatric Surgery for Teens

Which teenagers are candidates for bariatric weight loss surgery?

Bariatric surgery is not an option for everyone. It's only for people who are very obese and have failed more conservative measures.

To be considered for bariatric surgery, you must:

  • Have a BMI — body mass index — of 35 to 40 and above, the same as adults.
    » Calculate your BMI now.
  • Have reached adult height — usually ages 13 for girls and 15 for boys.
  • Complete six months of nonsurgical weight management through a presurgical
    lifestyle program.
  • Have health conditions related to obesity, such as:
    • Type 2 diabetes
    • Sleep apnea
    • Heart disease
    • Significant functional or psychosocial impairment
      *If the patient has a BMI greater than 40, obesity-related health conditions are not required for surgery.

Benefits of Bariatric Weight Loss Surgery for Teenagers

Some medical problems in obese teens that may improve after bariatric surgery are:

  • Diabetes
  • Sleep apnea
  • Heart disease
  • Fatty liver disease
  • Heartburn and GERD
  • High blood pressure
  • Asthma
  • Joint pain

Did You Know?

You can learn more about the factors that make a person a likely candidate for bariatric surgery at one of UPMC's free information sessions.