Bariatric Surgery In Adolescents Essay

783 words - 4 pages

With an estimated one in three American adolescents being classified as overweight or obese many parents are turning away from traditional lifestyle modification approaches to more radical methods of combating adolescent obesity. Excessive weight at young ages has been linked to a wide range of comorbidities including hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and elevated blood cholesterol which is connected to higher and earlier death rates in adulthood (Kelleher, Merrill, Cottrell, Nadler, & Burd, 2013). Since the early 70’s the prevalence of overweight adolescents has increased from an average of 5% to an alarming 18% with obesity being the number one health concern for parents trumping drug abuse and smoking (www.heart.org).
Lifestyle modification such as diet and exercise has primarily been the treatment option of choice for these overweight adolescents. But in recent years bariatric surgery has become increasingly popular and an acceptable method of treatment. The results, although promising, are scarce, of poor quality, and adolescent patients undergo bariatric surgery without understanding the risks and benefits. Parents and adolescents differ in their views as to how obesity impacts their lives. Parents tend to look at the negative psychosocial and medical impacts of obesity (Hofmann, 2010) whereas the adolescent patient may be motivated by peer relationships that result in weight-based victimization (Browne, 2012) therefore creating a series of moral and ethical challenges regarding this practice.
One of the many ethical and moral challenges presented by bariatric surgery in the adolescent patient is at what age can a child understand the lifelong lifestyle ramifications of such a procedure? When providing healthcare to adolescents the healthcare team must be careful to balance the needs of both the adolescent and the parent; however legally until the adolescent is an adult informed consent must be obtained from the parent. A family approach is necessary when assisting adolescents with dietary and lifestyle changes and education must be provided with both the adolescent and parent present. In order for the adolescent to be successful the healthcare provider should assist the parent in becoming the healthcare consultant versus the decision maker. Weight loss surgery quite possible could be the first major healthcare decision an adolescent might make. The surgical team is ethically required to obtain the adolescent’s consent; therefore the team must provide the information in such...

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