KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- Kids at Lenexa’s Pinnacle Gymnastics are staying active. When KCTV5 News told their parents about obese kids getting surgery to lose weight, some said no way.

“Personally, my own opinion, I wouldn’t agree with it because they’re still developing at that age,” Jesse Franchuk, parent, said.

Others said, it depends.

“It’s ultimately going to be the best for the child is what we all want as parents,” Jodi Wallace, another parent said.

A lot of people think eating better and exercising more should be enough, but the position paper published Sunday says otherwise. Experts say, sure, some kids just need to grow into their bodies, but we’re talking severely obese.

“Once you get to a certain weight it’s really hard to make those big global changes within your body, from a lifestyle modification perspective, but also from a neuro-hormonal kind of perspective as well,” Dr. Jason Fraser, a Children’s Mercy Hospital Surgeon, said.

Children’s Mercy has a program geared specifically to pediatric weight loss. An 11-year-old KCTV5 News profiled two years ago had success with diet and exercise.

But now Children’s Mercy also has a bariatric surgery program for kids headed by Dr. Fraser, who has done 25 such surgeries so far, mostly on teens, but one on a pre-teen.

“It’s relatively rare in the city as well as in the region to have a center that does bariatric surgery in adolescence,” Dr. Fraser said.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation is for “severely obese.” The group says primary care doctors aren’t referring enough and insurance isn’t covering enough.

The paper cites, “Low complication rates,” and even says sooner can be better. “Outcomes are improved, and complication rates are lower when surgery is done sooner.”

“The sooner that these operations happen, the better. Because as you put on more weight, you start having more comorbidities and more problems - diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea - those things continue to mount up and the more problems you have going into an operation, the more difficult it is for you to recover,” Dr. Fraser said.

Like with adults, though, lifestyle changes must come with surgery, or you’re back to square one which is why the Children’s Mercy program includes a long-term plan with not just doctors but psychologists, nutritionists and so on.

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