Morbidly obese children may benefit from having a gastric band fitted, according to a new study performed in the US.
Surgeons at Children's National Medical Centre carried out research involving nearly 50 girls and boys, all of whom were aged between 14 and 17 years and were morbidly obese.
The procedure - which is a form of laparoscopic obesity surgery - was found to result in significant decreases in total and abdominal fat and improvements in glucose metabolism, while bone mineral density was unaffected.
Lead author Dr Evan Nadler, paediatric surgeon at Children's National Medical Centre, said that the study is "the first to demonstrate the improvements in overall health and distribution of weight loss after lap band surgery in adolescents".
He noted: "While weight-loss surgery should always be a last resort for adults and adolescents, these findings show us that surgery in adolescents reduces the risk of significant health complications."
The findings are published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons and may be of interest to surgeons in the UK, where obesity surgery is generally not recommended for children.