Is bariatric surgery more effective at certain points in adolescence?


A report offers insight into whether the timing of bariatric surgery has an impact on outcomes.

The introduction of bariatric surgery led to a key tool for combating obesity in patients of all ages, including teenagers and young adults. However, a question has remained about whether the timing of the surgery in adolescence can change the future outcomes for the patient. A report in Pediatrics offers some key insights.1

The researchers looked at adolescents who underwent bariatric surgery at 5 clinical centers in the United States between March 2007 and December 2011 and who were also enrolled in the prospective, multicenter, long-term outcome study Teen–Longitudinal Assessment of Bariatric Surgery. They compared the outcome data from younger adolescents aged 13 to 15 years to older adolescents aged 16 to 19 years. The outcomes that were included in the study were comorbidity outcomes such as dyslipidemia and type 2 diabetes mellitus, quality of life over 5 years postsurgery, and nutrition abnormalities. The remission rate of type 2 diabetes mellitus was high in both of the groups, but it was statistically higher in the older adolescents group (relative risk 0.86; P = .046). Both age groups saw similar reports on quality of life and weight loss. Adolescents in the younger group were less likely to develop low vitamin D levels (prevalence ratio 0.8; P = .034) as well as less likely to develop elevated transferrin (prevalence ratio 0.52; P = .048)

The researchers concluded that there were few differences in the outcomes of the surgery because of age. This information indicates that younger adolescents with severe obesity should not be kept from bariatric surgery consideration just because of age. It also offers further confirmation that all adolescents should be considered for surgical treatment of obesity if it’s clinically indicated.


1. Ogle S, Dewberry L, Jenkins T, et al. Outcomes of bariatric surgery in older versus younger adolescents. Pediatrics. February 1, 2021. Epub ahead of print. doi:10.1542/peds.2020-024182

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