Healthwise: Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

Posted on: September 14th, 2015 by Our Team

Exploring Teen Bariatric Surgery

  • Aired: 05/16/2015
  • 26:56
  • Expires:
  • Rating: NR

As the obesity crisis has deepened among the children and adolescents across the United States, bariatric surgery for teens has grown in numbers. The panel will explore the long-term behavioral changes needed to assist in permanent weight loss.

Ragui Sadek, M.D., FACS, SOEMBS, Director of Bariatric Surgery at the Bristol Myers-Squibb Children’s Hospital and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital 9 p.m. EDT September 7, 2015

In the past 30 years, childhood obesity has more than doubled and nearly quadrupled in adolescents, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In the United States alone, nearly 12.5 million young people have been affected by this epidemic, and morbid obesity is continually growing each year. Sadly, obese youth are more likely at risk for cardiovascular disease and are preconditioned to diabetes as well as social and psychological problems. But there are steps to be taken to prevent the disease and receive the proper help and guidance.

Many bariatric professionals have concluded that this is the first generation to have a projected shorter life span, by about 13 years, than the previous generation and this is directly linked to the obesity epidemic. It is important for parents to understand the causes of obesity and ways to prevent your child from becoming obese. The most common causes are genetic factors, lack of physical activity, unhealthy eating habits, and a combination of these factors.

To help prevent your child from becoming obese, you can involve your whole family in healthy habits. Leading by example is especially important, as young children are easily influenced by your behaviors. If they see that you are physically active and often engaging in exercise, they are more likely to do so as well. You can plan family activities that get the whole family moving, such as partaking in community walks/runs, swimming, bike rides, hiking and participating in sports. There is no great secret to healthy eating. Incorporating plenty of vegetables, fruits and whole-grain products with low-fat or non-fat dairy products is vital in creating healthy eating habits. Always choose lean meats, poultry, lentils and beans for protein, and serve reasonably sized portions. Sugar-sweetened beverages and consumption of sugary foods and saturated fats can contribute to obesity. Making a conscious effort to reduce the amount of time spent in sedentary activities can also go a long way. Children and adults alike can benefit from minimizing the amount of time spent watching TV, playing on the computer and playing video games.

For extreme cases, experts suggest bariatric surgery as a possible option. Offered at The Bristol-Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital (BMSCH) at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, bariatric surgery is a key health tool that helps adolescents ages 15 through 21. It is recommended to those who are suffering from obesity and obesity-related health issues, and have several failed attempts at weight management. In order to be eligible for this procedure, adolescents must meet the following qualifications:

•  A body mass index (BMI) of 50 or more
•  A BMI of 40 with physical and/or emotional obesity-associated problems:
• Obstructive sleep apnea
• High cholesterol
• High blood press
• Diabetes
• Depression
• Anxiety
• Joint and back pain
• Arthritis
• Asthma
• Fatter liver
• NASH (nonalcoholic steatohepatitis)
• Must have reached skeletal maturity
• Must have documentation of at least one physician-supervised diet plan in the past five years
• Must have no uncontrolled psychiatric illness
• No history of drug or alcohol abuse within the past year
• Must be committed to participating in the post-operative exercise and support programs.

Whatever approach you decide to take if your child is overweight, it is important to be supportive to your child’s needs and sensitive about their feelings. Taking action towards a healthier lifestyle is in your hands. In light of Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, start taking steps in the right direction to ensure your child is maintaining a healthy weight to ensure a long life of good health. If there is a problem, seek help. BMSCH’s program only allows a surgeon of excellence (SOEMBS), as designated by the Surgical Review Board, to perform surgery on its adolescent patients. A surgeon of excellence ‘has performed at least 125 qualifying bariatric surgery procedures in his or her lifetime, with at least 50 cases performed in the preceding 12 months and exceeds the national benchmarks for complications.

To learn more about BMSCH, visit

Ragui Sadek, M.D., FACS, SOEMBS, is director of Bariatric Surgery at the Bristol Myers-Squibb Children’s Hospital and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital.


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