Bariatric surgery for weight-loss which till now was limited to obese adults is now being recommended by American Academy of Pediatrics for heavily obese children and teenagers. They say that both metabolic and bariatric surgery can be considered safe treatment for teens and children that were having trouble in maintaining their weight. The AAP made this recommendation for policy change in its medical journal Pediatrics stating that such surgical treatment should be covered by insurance. According to co-author of this policy statement Dr. K. Reichard, S. director of Bariatric S. Program DuPont pediatric hospital in Delaware, this policy statement is focused on acceptance and access to appropriate care.
He affirmed that currently there is a lot of variability is insurance health insurance policies and some of them do not cover bariatric surgery for children below 18 years. Also the policy states that there should not be any age guideline for the surgery as extremely obesity among children affects ethnic minorities disproportionately and is especially visible in economically weaker girls. Obesity currently affects one out of every five children in United States which can raise risk of several health problems like diabetes, stroke, arthritis, heart disease and breathing problems.
Body Mass Index or BMI is used for obesity screening and when it is above 95 % for children and teenagers the individual is considered obese. According to Dr. Ann O’Connor of Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital, BMI is accessed to understand if surgery is the best alternative to treat a person with severe obesity. She explained that adults with BMI over 40 are considered for surgery and even people with hypertension, diabetes and sleep apnea with BMI above 35 should consider surgery as a treatment option. The policy statement also recommends that teenager should be above 13 years or more to understand surgery implications.