News & Commentary

Gastrectomy OK For Struggling Kids


As might be expected, psychiatric diagnoses such as depression and anxiety are prevalent among adolescents with severe obesity. That should not disqualify them from getting sleeve gastrectomy surgery, says a study in JAMA Pediatrics. Such adolescents are likely to lose the same amount of weight regardless of their mental health problems.

Sleeve gastrectomy shrinks the stomach down to the size of a banana. Surgeons have been wary about treating people with cognitive or mood disorders with the surgery partly because of concerns that they might not follow strict dietary rules afterward.

But when researchers with the Children’s National Health System in Washington, D.C., studied obese children referred for surgery, they found that a large fraction—71%—had a psychiatric disorder. They also looked at the weight-loss outcomes three and 12 months after surgery and found no difference between teens with and without mental health issues.

“The presurgical psychological evaluation serves as an opportunity to identify adolescents experiencing psychiatric problems and provide them with care but should not necessarily be considered a contraindication to surgery,” Eleanor Mackey and her coauthors conclude.

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