Overweight Kids: Diet Pills and Surgery

What is your opinion of diet pills or even bariatric surgery as potential solutions for obesity in children and teenagers?

We don’t recommend diet pills. Prescription diet medications currently on the market offer very limited (if any) help in weight loss for adults – and non-prescription pills, supplements and other concoctions sold as cures for obesity serve only to lighten the wallets of those who put their hope in them. These are not appropriate for children, and are as unlikely to produce significant results in overweight adolescents as in adults. Prescription medications for weight loss should be considered only after careful evaluation of the situation by a dietitian and a physician who have special expertise in their use by kids in this age group.

Some bariatric surgery centers are now carrying out gastric banding and bypass procedures on adolescents with severe weight problems. In properly selected cases involving teenagers with significant, long-standing obesity (especially when medical complications have developed) – this type of procedure may be health- and even life-preserving. Appropriate candidates are those who have failed ongoing supervised weight-loss attempts, who have reached their adult height and who have been carefully screened medically and psychologically. The procedure, however, should only be carried out by surgeons who are highly experienced in performing this surgery on adolescents within the context of a comprehensive program, most likely in a university or major medical center.

If you have a teenager who is contemplating this type of procedure, ask your primary care physician (who should be involved in this discussion) for a referral to a qualified bariatric surgeon. You can also check the website of the American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) at to locate a qualified doctor in your area.


Common Medical Questions About Your Kids

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Body and Soul Ministries

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