Adolescent Obesity

Prevalence of Obesity in Adolescents

  • Obesity is a serious health condition; as of 2007, 32% of children aged 10-17 in the U.S. are overweight and 16% are obese1, childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years2
  • Without intervention, extremely obese children may continue to suffer from obesity as adults;3 Overweight adolescents have a 70% chance of becoming overweight or obese adults and an 80% chance if a parent is overweight or obese4

    • Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) study found about half of obese teenage girls and a third of obese teenage boys become severely obese by the time they are 30 5
    • 1 in 12 teenagers become severely obese, or 100 pounds above their ideal weight, as they enter adulthood 5
  • Obesity may be more prevalent among minority populations; 6% of African-American, 5% of Mexican-American and 3% of Caucasian children and adolescents are considered obese 6

Risks Associated with Obesity in Adolescents

  • 2010 New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) study suggests obese adolescents are more than twice as likely than non-obese adolescents to die prematurely, before age 55, of illness or self-inflicted injury 7
  • Without major lifestyle changes, obese children may face a 10-20 year shorter life span and may develop health problems in their twenties that are typically seen in 40-60 year-olds8
  • 2010 Journal of Pediatrics study finds nearly two-thirds of morbidly obese children have 2 or more cardiovascular risk factors and a substantial proportion have significant co-morbidities typically seen in adults, including obstructive sleep apnea, type 2 diabetes, severe depression, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, significant hypertension and an enlarged heart3
  • A study of 5- to 17-year-olds found that 70% of obese children had at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease and 39% of obese children had at least two risk factors9
  • Among morbidly obese adolescents ages 15-17, 83% had elevated C-Reactive Protein levels, a blood marker for inflammation that in adults is considered an early warning sign for possible future heart disease, compared to 18% of healthy weight adolescents10

Impact of Bariatric Surgery on Adolescents

  • Studies suggest bariatric surgery should be considered for adolescents with BMI > 40 or >35 with serious co-morbid conditions11
  • Bariatric surgery in adolescents with morbid obesity is shown to be more effective for losing weight than diet and exercise alone; a 2010 Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) study found teens fitted with gastric bands had an average of nearly 80% excess weight loss, while diet and exercise group lost an average of 13% excess weight11
  • Studies show that surgery may also be an effective tool for resolving or improving co-morbid conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, Type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome and in adolescents3, 11, 12

    • Patients in a 2010 JAMA study showed improvements in physical functioning, general health, self-esteem and family activities11
  • 2010 Journal of Pediatrics study on the importance of early medical intervention to treat morbid obesity, found with earlier surgical intervention, adolescents may have a greater chance of reversing the effects of obesity3


View the attached PDF for a full list of references