Reducing Cardiovascular Risk In Adolescents With Bariatric Surgery

Given the limited effectiveness of “lifestyle” interventions and the lack of access to medical treatments, many adolescents struggling with severe obesity are left with no option but to consider having bariatric surgery.

Now, a paper by Marc Michalsky and colleagues on behalf of the Teens LABS Consortium, in a paper published in Pediatrics, describes the effect of bariatric surgery on cardiovascular risk factors in adolescents undergoing these procedures.

The study includes 242 adolescents (76% girls, 72% white, mean age 17 ± 1.6 y,  median BMI 51) undergoing bariatric surgery (Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (n = 161), vertical sleeve gastrectomy (n = 67), or adjustable gastric banding (n = 14)), at five centers.

At 3 years following surgery, weight was significantly lower in all groups (28%, 26%, and 8% for RYGB, VSG, and AGB, respectively).

Hypertension, observed in 44% of participants, declined to 15% at 3 years.

Dyslipidemia observed in 75% of participants, declining to 27% by 1 year and 29% by 3 years. This improvement was largely due to decrease in triclycerides and increases in HDL cholesterol.

Baseline diabetes was present in 13% of participants with major metabolic improvement (0.5%) by 3 years. Similarly, baseline impaired fasting glucose (26%) and hyperinsulinemia (74%) dramatically improved by year 3 (4% and 20%, respectively).

Improvements in these parameters were related to the degree of weight loss.

Remission rates were negatively correlated to higher age and positively correlated to female sex and white race.

Overall, the authors conclude that this study documents the improvements in cardiovascular risk factors in adolescent bariatric surgery.

Unfortunately, the study does not present any information on surgical complications or reoperation rates, an obvious matter of concern when it comes to surgery in this young population.

While there may well have been no alternative to surgical treatment in these kids, we can only hope that eventually medical treatments will become available for this population, hopefully with similar outcomes. Unfortunately, that may well still be a long way off.

Edmonton, AB