Sheikh Khalifa Medical City is to offer gastric balloon surgery to children as young as 11 it has been announced.
Traditionally the procedure would be only be offered to children when they turn 13, but now Abu Dhabi’s main government hospital will offer it to ‘patients who really need it’. Previous studies have limited the availability to children weighing between 88 and 127kg, however no such structure will be in place at SKMC.
Intragastric balloons are one of the most popular non-surgical weight loss techniques available. It involves the insertion of a silicon balloon into the patient’s stomach, artificially creating a feeling of being full after eating just a small amount of food.
On average patients are able to lose around 15% of their body weight in just six months with the balloon, with most people experiencing very few side-effects.
With childhood obesity rates in the Emirates currently sitting at 34%, and with 70 million children estimated to be obese globally by 2025 there has never been a more vital time to target the issue. Whether or not non-surgical interventions will make a major contribution remains to be seen however, with greater education and changing attitudes potentially being the key.
One stumbling block is the price, set at around 15,000Dh (around £3,000) which is not covered by insurance. For many parents however that may be worth paying to give their children the best chance of living a long, healthy life.
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