Weight Loss Surgery for Kids


HOUSTON, Texas (Ivanhoe Newswire) – One in three adults are overweight. One in 11 are severely obese, and almost half of those obese men and women were once obese boys and girls. More than ever before, our children are facing a health crisis that could impact them for the rest of their lives. That’s why now, doctors are turning to some very adult solutions to help children get their weight back on track with Weight Loss Surgery

For as long as she can remember, Harley Boaz felt different.

“People stare at you. People judge you. They think that all you do is sit at home and eat. I never got numbers from guys, never was called cute, never was called pretty,” she says.

At her heaviest, Harley weighed 285 pounds and she was struggling with adult health problems.

“I was diagnosed with hypertension, which I was hospitalized for, which was very scary. I was prediabetic. I had high cholesterol,” Harley mentions.

Texas Children’s Hospital metabolic and bariatric surgeon, Dr. Shawn Stafford explains, “We’re seeing comorbidities in these kids now, that we never saw in people until their forties and fifties before. So, early intervention is the key.”

(Read Full Interview)

A multidisciplinary team at Texas Children’s Hospital is helping their obese pediatric patients by offering them a comprehensive plan starting with 6 months of mental health and nutritional counseling followed by surgery.

“Everybody that rolls through the door doesn’t get surgery. They have to demonstrate over the course of this preoperative period that they’re motivated and that they’re capable of making mature decisions about changing a lifestyle and making it stick,” Dr. Stafford further explains.

Harley opted for a sleeve gastrectomy.

Dr. Stafford says, “We remove 80 percent of the outside of the stomach. So, the stomach that’s left is about the size and shape of a banana.”

One year after surgery, Harley has lost a hundred pounds.

Harley expresses to Ivanhoe, “My diagnosis started to get better. It was life changing for me. I have been asked out and given numbers more times this year than I have in my whole life.”

Harley’s road to weight loss was not an easy one.  After weight loss surgery, she was on a strictly liquid diet for one month, followed by two months of only soft foods. But for kids like Harley, it’s a life-saving decision. The CDC reports adults who are obese at the age of 40 can expect to die three to six years earlier than someone who is not overweight. While research has deemed the procedure safe for kids and teens, less than one percent of morbidly obese kids undergo the procedure.

Contributors to this news report include: Marsha Lewis, Producer; Roque Correa, Videographer, Editor.

To receive a free weekly e-mail on medical breakthroughs from Ivanhoe, sign up at: http://www.ivanhoe.com/ftk









REPORT:       MB #5066

BACKGROUND: Approximately one in six children and adolescents ages two to 19 are overweight and one in five are obese. Childhood obesity is a serious problem and puts children and adolescents at risk for health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Childhood obesity can also affect mental health as obese children and adolescents may have poor self-esteem and depression. Too little activity and too many calories from food and drinks are the main contributors to childhood obesity, but genetic and hormonal factors also play a role.

(Source: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-statistics/overweight-obesity)

5-2-1-0 RULE: Following a healthy lifestyle can help children who are overweight or obese lose weight. Many public health campaigns and pediatrician offices recommend kids adhere to the 5-2-1-0 rule, which consists of:

  • 5 – Consume at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily
  • 2 – Limit screen time to no more than 2 hours per day
  • 1 – Get 1 hour of physical activity daily
  • 0 – Consume 0 sugar-sweetened beverages

These guidelines may not only help with weight loss but can also prevent some of the immediate and long-term health outcomes associated with obesity such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, respiratory problems, and liver disease.

(Sources: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5573793/, https://childhoodobesityfoundation.ca/what-is-childhood-obesity/complications-childhood-obesity/)

BARIATRIC SURGERY: Sometimes, following healthy guidelines is not enough for severely obese kids and surgery may be an option. In fact, a study from Penn Medicine shows bariatric surgery is safe and beneficial for teens with morbid obesity and the risks of complications, readmissions may be lower than the risks associated with lifelong obesity. The findings also suggest more readily referring patients with lower BMIs for surgery, instead of delaying of surgery until adolescents develop worsening obesity.

(Source: https://www.pennmedicine.org/news/news-releases/2019/october/bariatric-surgery-is-safe-for-teens-with-morbid-obesity)


Wendi Hawthorne

(832) 824-2735


If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at mthomas@ivanhoe.com

Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Doctor Shawn Stafford, MD, Metabolic/Bariatric Surgeon

Read the entire Q&A