Are Gastric Bands A Safe Alternative for Teens Struggling to Lose Weight?

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First Lady Michelle Obama is fighting hard to end childhood obesity, but could a gastric band be the simple solution to this national epidemic?

"Bands are definitely safe in the short term and definitely work in the short term," explains Dr. Mary Brandt, director of pediatric surgery at Texas Children's Hospital. "What we don't know is about the long term. I'm not saying it should never be used. We just have to be more careful about how we're using it."

Gastric banding is a seemingly easy surgery. It only takes between a half-hour to an hour to complete, and the patient is left with a band at the top of the stomach to reduce its size. Unlike gastric bypass surgery, gastric banding can be reversed. According to ABC News, one study reported that teens who opted for gastric banding shed 10 times more pounds than teens who stuck to exercise and a healthy diet.
Sounds too good to be true, right? Well it is. Here's the catch: Gastric bands may cause more problems in teens than adults who undergo this surgery. The band could slip, teens could develop swallowing problems as well as other complications, or even need to have additional surgeries.

What are your thoughts on this issue? Overweight teens could potentially develop a range of health problems, including life-threatening ones like diabetes. Is surgery a better option than diet and exercise to avoid that risk?

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