King’s College Hospital, London is the first UK hospital with a specialist centre which provides weight loss surgery to treat obese children.
As in the US, the rates of childhood obesity are rocketing in the UK, with the most up to date figures revealing that about one third of children in England that are aged 10 and 11 have problems with their weight.
Ashish Desai, who established the new centre at King’s College Hospital to cater for 13- to 18-year-olds, explains that the centre was needed to respond to the obesity epidemic . It is also reported that several other hospitals in the UK may be planning to open paediatric bariatric centres.
The opening of the new centre will hopefully help prevent many of the children currently travelling abroad to get this often life changing surgery, as if a healthy diet and good exercise regime is maintained following the surgery patients can expect to lose between 30% to 50% of their excess body weight.
One of the first few patients treated was a 13 year old boy who was forced to use a wheel chair due to bone problems caused by his obesity.
Mr Desai believes that surgery can provide a long lasting remedy for sleep apnoea, diabetes, and many other obesity related problems but he considers surgery to be the last resort rather than a quick fix. Young people under his care receive an intensive 6 month treatment programme with a psychologist, dietician and paediatrician before surgery is even considered and it will only be undertaken if they
- have reached full puberty
- have a BMI of over 40
- are sufficiently mature enough to understand the wide ranging implications the surgery will have on their lives
In the year following surgery there will be a further 10 to 12 follow up appointments for after care to make sure the young person is getting the support that they need to make the adjustments in their life that the surgery will require to be successful.