Is Lap Band Surgery Appropriate for Obese Teens?

Earlier this week, the LA Times reported that Allergan was filing an FDA application for its lap band surgery for teens as young as 14. The application follows Allergan getting FDA okay to lower weight threshold for lap band surgery in adults, adding millions more candidates for the surgery.

Allergan’s Lap Band involves placing a silicone ring around the stomach that restricts food intake. According to Allergan spokeswoman Cathy Taylor, about one-third of US teens are obese and obesity is a risk factor for multiple serious health conditions. Clinical trials in teens are underway.

Critics have pointed out that there are no long-term outcomes data that lend confidence to using lap bands for 50 years and more. They have pointed to the need to remove or replace a lap band. Proponents say that obesity has serious consequences, including elevating the risk for hypertension, diabetes, coronary heart disease, and more.

What is your point of view? Do you think that 14-year-old, obese kids should consider lap band surgery? Or bariatric surgery? Do you think that weight-loss surgery of any type would work as a long-term intervention for obese teens? If the goal is to reduce the numbers of obese kids, what solutions would you propose? How do you think obesity in teens should be dealt with?

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