Journal of Nutrition and Dietetic Practice

Abstract

Adolescent Weight Loss Strategies: A Literature Review

Author(s): Ashley Gehl and Ardith Brunt

Since nearly a quarter of individuals aged 2-19 years are classified as obese in the United States, finding effective weight loss solutions to combat this epidemic are essential. Over time childhood obesity usually develops into adolescent and adult obesity contributing to increased prevalence of chronic disease and increased healthcare costs. The purpose of this review is to evaluate the physical and financial costs and benefits and of surgical versus lifestyle treatment interventions for adolescent obesity. Interventions include bariatric surgery and behavioral treatment incorporating components of family support, stimulus control, mindfulness when eating, self-monitoring, increasing physical activity, and managing daily intake. A theory based multicomponent behavioral intervention that includes the child and parent appears to be most successful for younger children. Nevertheless, often these children become obese adults, resulting in numerous treatment interventions. As adolescents become more independent these behavioral interventions are less successful long term. Bariatric surgery may be a life/ cost saving alternative to treat obese adolescents. The main costs associated with surgery includes monetary expense of surgery, long-term vitamin/mineral deficiencies, and lifestyle adherence post-surgery. 
Surgical complications are no higher in adolescents than adults, however, long term effects on growth remain to be seen. Overall, the age of onset of obesity influences the type of treatment individuals should participate in. Children with obesity younger than 10 years are more likely to respond to behavioral treatment than children with obesity older than 10 years. Adolescents with obesity who are 21 years and younger may respond better to a more aggressive approach of treatment, such as bariatric surgery. Analysis of child and adolescent lifestyle, environment, and support should be conducted to find a successful weight loss intervention.

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