Last year, the FDA announced that it would allow extremely obese children [teenagers] to be included in clinical trials for the lapband. And now, it looks as if some results are starting to come out of the trials. Here’s a news report – with mixed reviews.
NYU has reported that the 53 teens have lost an average of half of their excess weight over the past year, and that’s truly excellent, considering that their average weight was 297 pounds at the beginning! So, assuming that they should weigh an average of, oh, 125 pounds, they were an average of 175 pounds overweight, which means they’d lost an average of 87 pounds over the year – spectacular weight loss, IMO, even though we are talking about averages here. [and, thanks to eagle-eyed readers, I’ve corrected the math – with many apologies!]
In any event, as we all know, whether or not these teens can maintain their weight loss is one of the two really big questions. The other really big question is whether there are any long-term consequences to their health related to the surgery. The lapband doesn’t have the malabsorption that the gastric bypass does, but that doesn’t eliminate the possibility of other issues. In fact, 2 of the patients had iron deficiency. Assuming these cases were girls, they’re looking at a long span of fertility, and they’re going to need some careful management – and compliance.
And the overall reported complication rate seems high to me – 23 of the 53 had some issue or other.
Of course, bottom line, unless these teens change their lives, as we all have to, it won’t work over the long haul.
In any event, the clinical trial is being expanded to other centers in the US, with lots of caveats.
As with WLS in adults, it’s not a quick fix, and it’s not an easy decision. But, just how do we decide who qualifies and who doesn’t? Does a 300-pound 15-year-old with no comorbidities need to try just one more time? Or not.
I don’t pretend to have the answers here – but my hope is that one day, WLS of any kind won’t be needed.