Study: Remission of Obesity-related Complications in Teens Not Dependent on Sustained Weight Loss

November 25, 2020
Sydney Jennings

Associate Editor of Patient Care Online

Results of a new study suggest that remission of obesity-related complications in adolescents who underwent bariatric surgery is not dependent on sustained weight loss.

A new study published in the journal Obesity showed that, with the exception of cholesterol and triglyceride levels, remission of obesity-related complications in adolescents was not dependent on major sustained weight loss.

"We view the findings of this study to be very encouraging," said lead author Sarkis Christopher Derderian, MD, pediatric surgery fellow, Children's Hospital of Colorado, in a press release. "Because the amount of weight loss does not seem to impede the sustained remission of many obesity-related complications, the study supports the myriad benefits of bariatric surgery for severely obese teens. These patients are often able to stop taking medications for Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure following surgery. In doing so, not only does their quality of life dramatically improve, but no longer incurring the cost of managing such complications can offset the cost of surgery over time."

Approximately 80%-90% of adolescents benefit from lasting weight loss following bariatric surgery, and most experience remission of obesity-related complications (eg, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol), according to study authors.

The relationship between weight loss and remission of obesity-related complications after bariatric surgery has not been extensively examined.

To analyze this relationship further, Derderian and his Children’s Hospital of Colorado colleagues compared rates of remission of obesity-related complications among 2 groups of patients: Those who experienced <20% total body weight loss 5 years after bariatric surgery and those who experienced ≥20% total body weight loss over the same time period.

All 192 study participants were part of the Teen-Longitudinal Assessment of Bariatric Surgery (Teen-LABS), a multi-center study led by researchers at Children’s Hospital of Colorado.

Researchers found that 40.6% of participants exhibited <20% total body weight loss and 59.4% exhibited ≥20% total body weight loss at 5 years. Also, while the latter group saw greater improvement in their cholesterol levels, the remission of other obesity-related complications was independent of whether the participants achieved major sustained weight loss or not.

"In looking at the relationship between the extent of weight loss and health benefits obtained, it is clear that patients' health improves regardless of whether or not they sustain high levels of weight loss long-term following surgery," said co-author Thomas H. Inge, MD, PhD, Teen-LABS principal investigator, in the same press release. "While this study is incredibly promising, additional research is needed to determine if the same benefits are seen in patients who only sustain weight loss of five to 10% over time. Nevertheless, this study supports the recognition of bariatric surgery as the most effective intervention to promote significant and durable weight loss in adolescents with severe obesity."