Millions of adults have turned to surgery when diet and exercise don't work. Now, with childhood obesity sharply on the rise, researchers are exploring whether surgery may be a viable option for teens. As part of a multi-center clinical trial, UCSD Medical Center will evaluate whether or not a minimally invasive procedure called gastric banding is a safe and effective weight loss treatment in obese adolescents ages 14-17.
"Gastric banding is known to be highly successful in adults. The question to answer is whether or not the procedure can help morbidly obese teens, who on average are overweight by more than 100 pounds," said Santiago Horgan, M.D., director of the UCSD Center for the Treatment of Obesity. "Over a period of five years, we will closely monitor the patient's weight, in addition to their overall health and well being."
Gastric banding is designed to induce weight loss by reducing stomach size which helps patients control food portions. Through a small incision, an adjustable band is placed around the upper stomach to form a small gastric pouch. The band creates an hourglass shaped stomach, limiting food intake and lengthening the feeling of fullness. The procedure takes approximately 40 minutes and can usually be performed on an outpatient basis. If necessary, the belt-like band can be adjusted or removed any time.
The nationwide study population will consist of 150 adolescents recruited from seven weight management centers. Twenty two participants will be recruited at UCSD Medical Center. Potential participants must demonstrate a history of obesity for at least two years and have failed more conservative non-surgical weight-reduction alternatives such as a supervised diet, exercise, and behavior modification programs.
"By addressing obesity at an early age, we may be able to avoid life-threatening conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and depression," said Horgan who has performed more than 1,000 gastric banding procedures. "In the long run this could potentially save billions of dollars now spent on obesity related healthcare."
UCSD Medical Center has a comprehensive program dedicated to the holistic treatment of obesity. Through a compassionate team approach, patients and their families are offered leading-edge medical care combined with nutritional training, fitness counseling, and psychological support.