May 16 (UPI) -- Gastric bypass surgery is producing good, sustained health outcomes for adults, but may have more benefits for teens, a new study says.
After having weight loss surgery, a group of teens with obesity lost 26 percent of their body weight, while the adults with obesity lost 29 percent of their weight, according to a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine. The study also was funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
"Obesity increases the risk for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, and these conditions can be more difficult to manage in young people," Mary Evans, program director of Division of Digestive Diseases and Nutrition at the institute and study author, said in a news release.
The surgery, however, does come with challenges. The teens faced more health risks than the adults following the procedure, like requiring more even stomach surgeries to remove gall bladders. Teens also had lower iron and vitamin D levels, probably because they didn't take the proper amount of supplements following the surgery.
This study found that weight-loss surgery worked well for teens because their type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure was significantly reversed compared to adults who lost a similar amount of weight with the same procedure.
Despite the risks, weight loss surgery seems to have undeniable benefits.
Prior to surgery, 57 percent of teens also required blood pressure medication, compared to 68 percent of adults. During a five-year follow-up, only 11 percent of teens and 33 percent of adults continued to use blood pressure medication.
The teens also had a 27 percent higher likelihood of controlling blood glucose than adults without diabetes medication, the study says.
Overall, 88 percent of the teens used medication to control diabetes before the surgery but none needed it after the procedure. That's compared to 79 percent of adults who required medication prior to surgery and 26 percent who used it afterward.
"Although there are risks associated with bariatric surgery, this study demonstrates that, for many young people, the benefits likely outweigh the risks," said Thomas Inge, a researcher at Children's Hospital Colorado and study first author.