Pediatric Obesity: New Study Highlights Risks, Offers Clinical Recommendations

Results of a multicenter clinical study of the safety and health effects of surgical weight loss procedures among severely obese adolescents were published this week in JAMA Pediatrics. The study focuses on the associations between severe obesity and chronic musculoskeletal pain and functional status in adolescents prior to undergoing bariatric surgery. “Teen Longitudinal Assessment of Bariatric Surgery” (Teen-LABS) was funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In their report, the authors note that although pediatric obesity is both common and known to be associated with other disease states, very little is known about the consequences of the most severe forms of obesity on the musculoskeletal system.

The study found that of 242 participants, 75% reported musculoskeletal pain and 50% had poor functional status. Pain in the lower back was the most commonly reported followed by pain in the lower extremities, including the ankles, feet, knees, and hips. Most importantly, lower extremity pain was a risk factor that predicted functional impairment and low health-related quality of life scores. The authors noted that lower extremity pain in severely obese adolescents may be a risk factor and herald a predisease state of osteoarthritis, which may be reversible at early stages following bariatric surgery.

Read a news story about the study and clinical recommendations here.


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