Surgical procedures are not a quick fix for obesity and doctors should refuse to provide such treatment for young teenagers, says the Royal Australasian College for Physicians (RACP).
New guidelines have been released by the college, which effectively bar its members from offering bariatric surgery to those below 15 years of age, while reversible lap-band can only be considered for older obese teenagers.
Louise Baur, fellow professor of RACP said the guidelines were made to cultivate a holistic approach in the treatment of obesity while preventing young people from taking hasty measures to reduce their weight.
It's important to understand these new (surgical) procedures are no quick fix, said Prof Baur who chaired the working party that developed the guidelines.
We need to protect young people from hasty measures, and the wider community needs to understand that some forms of bariatric surgery are irreversible and therefore have lifelong implications.
According the guidelines, teens must have a body mass index (BMI) of over 35 and have experienced a range of complications from severe obesity before a surgical intervention can be offered.
Ongoing medical assistance should be given by a team of doctors, nurses, dieticians, clinical psychologists and exercise scientists for youths who are undergoing reversible bariatric surgery.
The college recommends that bariatric surgery only be carried out by experienced bariatric surgeons as part of an holistic approach, said Prof Baur.
The guidelines endorsed by the Australia and New Zealand Association of Paediatric Surgeons and the Obesity Surgery Society of Australia and New Zealand affect more than 9, 000 physicians and paediatricians in both Australia and New Zealand.
Prof Baur says, We hope that the policy will be picked up and used as guidelines by state and federal governments as they look at public funding for bariatric surgery.