Introduction: As rates of obesity in youth rise, bariatric surgery is increasingly being considered as a therapeutic option. However, little is known about parental attitudes towards bariatric surgery in their children; particularly if they’ve received surgery themselves.
Aim: To determine parental history and attitudes towards bariatric surgery.
Method: We collected information during the Obesity Clinic at Princess Margaret Hospital for Children on surgery history, type, professionals consulted, changes in diet and physical activity, satisfaction with surgery outcomes, and if custodians would consider surgery for their child. An open comments section was used to collect qualitative data to analyse for common themes.
Results: Families of 72 obese adolescents responded between September 2010 and March 2013. History of surgery was reported in 22 (30.1%) of families; 8 custodians had surgery themselves, and 14 reported surgery in 1 or more family members or close friends.
Lap-banding was the most common surgery (77.3%). Of respondents, 63.6% rated surgery outcome as Good/Very Good. Surgeons were the most common professional consulted before and after surgery (68.1% and 54.5%, respectively). Lifestyle changes post-surgery focussed primarily on diet.
Nearly half (42.5%) of custodians would consider bariatric surgery for their child. This was not affected by history of surgery in the family. The main theme of comments was that surgery would be a last resort for the child after diet and exercise attempts had been exhausted. Custodians were aware of risks and side-effects; however among those who would choose surgery, they reported concern about risks of complications such as T2DM outweighing risks of surgery.
Discussion: The finding that half of custodians of obese children would consider surgery, albeit as a last resort, helps to inform obesity services. Medical teams may assist custodians by maintaining an open dialogue about the option of bariatric surgery, providing well-informed advice when requested.