The findings come as obesity rates are increasing. About 18.5% of U.S. children ages
2-19 years have obesity, meaning their body mass index (BMI) is at or above the 95th
percentile for their age and sex. About 6% of children have severe obesity, meaning
their BMI is at or above 120% of the 95th percentile or is at least 35 kg/m2, according to the study.
Researchers from Children’s Mercy Kansas City set out to look at the rates of children
ages 10-18 years undergoing MBS by using 2012-’16 data from the Inpatient Essentials
database. They estimate the case counts they found account for about 20% to 25% of
the national cases. During the study period, the database showed 859 adolescents underwent
MBS at 39 children’s hospitals, with three hospitals performing nearly half of the
Over the course of the study, MBS rates rose from 126 to 220 per year. About 73% of
MBS patients were female, half were ages 17 or 18 and half were non-Hispanic white.
However, authors noted the findings contradict trends for obesity rates, which typically
are highest among males, African Americans and Hispanic children.
“The root cause of this phenomenon may relate to unconscious bias and societal expectations
for particular groups of people, referral patterns, insurance issues, or others,”
Throughout the study, the median length of adolescents’ hospital stay decreased from
three days to two and costs dropped 22%. Rates of 30-day readmission held relatively
steady at just under 8%. Authors said these findings may have been due to improvements
in care stemming from 2012 American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery guidelines.
They expect rates of MBS to keep increasing.
“These findings may serve as useful benchmarks for newly developed and existing MBS
programs within children’s hospitals,” they wrote. “Future studies are needed to identify
patient characteristics associated with both positive and negative surgical outcomes
to identify patients best suited for MBS and potential areas for improvements or prevention
of adverse events and readmissions.”