Parents, doctors react to new guidelines recommending weight loss surgery for obese kids

Published: Oct. 29, 2019 at 4:25 PM CDT
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New recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics say it's okay for kids to get weight loss surgery.

One out five school-aged children in the U.S. now battle obesity according to the CDC. Pediatricians are recommending weight loss surgery as an option for kids who have major obesity problems and have already tried diet and exercise changes first.

"It kind of surprised me," said Leslie Miller of College Station. She also has four daughters aged 10 to 19.

"I guess you know just something you don’t really think about. But I could see where in some cases it might be helpful you know," she said.

She said there are challenges for parents to keep their kids healthy.

"I know we always are struggling with staying away from the sugar and eating right so definitely I think I'd like to focus on the nutrition and exercise first," she said. "But you know I mean that might be the route to go for some people," said Miller.

"The problem is when children become obese there's a 95 percent chance that they are going to stay obese as an adult and so early intervention is very important," said Dr. John Mason, who is the Chief of Bariatric Surgery at CHI St. Joseph Brazos Surgical Group in Bryan.

The youngest patient he's performed weight loss surgery on is 17, but he said there can be benefits for younger patients.

"They haven't had the disease affect their body tissues as long as an adult would. And so they respond well they have great results. It does fix it but it does come at risk, therefore, it is important that we try other means first," said Mason.

“It's real important to watch their diet. It’s easy for a child to pick the wrong foods and as an adult we need to try and direct our children to eat healthy and to try and curb those types of foods that lead to obesity," said Dr. Mason.

Miller suggested healthy habits start at home.

"We always kind of try to get the kids outside and you know try to get out and be as active as they can," she said.

Doctors said kids can recover from weight loss surgery in about a week. The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends insurance companies cover the procedure for children who need it.