A new research published online by JAMA Pediatrics suggests bariatric surgery was associated with faster walking by teens, less walking-related musculoskeletal pain and lower heart rates as soon as six months following surgery and as long as two years after surgery.
For most teenager, worrying about things is a normal part of growing up. But teens who are severely obese may worry about being able to walk around and keep up with their friends — or even whether a building has an elevator so they don’t have to climb several flights of stairs.
“And what this can do is really decrease the quality of life for these individuals,” Dr. Aaron S. Kelly said.
“Bariatric surgery is a viable treatment option for youth with sever obesity. But with that comes risks, but also comes substantial benefits,” Dr. Justin R. Ryder said.
Doctors Ryder and Kelly from University of Minnesota School of Medicine and co-authors are tracking long-term outcomes for 242 teens that underwent bariatric surgery at five centers around the U.S. — surgery like this one, performed by Dr. Thomas Inge at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.
The current study includes 206 of these teenagers and focuses on improvements in mobility and joint pain. All patients participated in a quarter-mile walk test before and after surgery.
“We figured from the outset that bariatric surgery, because of the magnitude of weight loss that accompanies it, that these teenagers would be able to walk further and have less pain, but we were surprised about just how much that improved,” Dr. Kelly said.
“They were able to walk this distance faster and with a lower heart rate, indicating that their fitness levels improved,” Dr. Kelly said.
“They were about 30 seconds faster at six months, and those benefits were sustained up to two years post-surgery,” Dr. Ryder said.
“In addition, they were able to do it relatively pain-free compared to before they had the surgery,” Dr. Kelly said. “Many of them will be more likely to engage in physical activity and exercise over time, which we think will give them a better shot of keeping the weight off in the long-term.”