More obese teens go under the knife as gastric band ops up 80pc in four years
The number of teens going under the knife for "last resort" gastric band surgery has increased 80pc in the last four years, according to a Dublin weight management clinic.
Dublin's Auralia Clinic claim obese teens, some as young as 16, are seeking the surgery in a bid to shed excess weight and avoid the medical dangers associated with obesity such as type two diabetes.
However, weight loss co- ordinator with the clinic, David Keogh, stressed the surgery is not suitable for those under 18 due to the "psychological impact" of the procedure.
Obesity rates are skyrocketing across Europe and figures from the World Heath Organisation, released in May, indicate that Ireland will come top of the obesity table by 2030.
The WHO has predicted that by 2030, 89pc of Irish men will fall into the category of being clinically obese, as will 85pc of women.
Mr Keogh has witnessed the escalating rate of obesity in Ireland first hand; his clinic has recorded a 50pc increase in patients seeking gastric band procedures in the last four years.
"In terms of the percentage increase compared to four years ago we are talking upwards of 80pc of 18 to 21-year-olds seeking the surgery," he said.
Since 2013, the average weight of patients between the ages 18 to 21 seeking operations with Auralia Clinic has increased from 18st 6lbs to 20st 4lbs. The clinic said they have had to turn people of all ages away on a weekly basis as they are "too far gone".
In recent months, the clinic turned away a 19-year-old girl weighing 30st as they believed it would be "too dangerous" to perform the invasive surgery on her.
"We're declining younger patients more than older patients."
Mr Keogh said he believes the surgery should only ever be a "last resort" when a patient has tried "absolutely every-thing at their disposal".
"If someone comes in thinking 'Oh I've got 3st to lose I'll give it a shot,' - absolutely not," Mr Keogh said.
He warned there was a common misconception that gastric band surgery is "a quick fix" or a "miracle worker".
"That is not the case," he argued. "It requires a huge amount of work and recovery time.
"Unless we can see that the patient is willing to put that amount of work in and they have proven that to us, then we just won't do the surgery," Mr Keogh explained.
Last year, 150 gastric band surgeries took place at the clinic.
The average age of those seeking gastric bands has dropped from 39 years of age in 2013 to 28 in 2014.