A Radical Solution For Overweight Teens

At 240 pounds, 16-year-old Jodie Babich has spent most of her life feeling like an outcast, CBS News medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook reports.

She tried to lose weight. "Exercise, all types of diets. I tried starving myself once," she says.

But Jodie has given up on the usual methods and opted to have a $20,000 weight reduction surgery that's currently only approved for adults. Dr. George Fielding of New York University Medical Center says 1 in 15 American children are obese enough to need this operation.

Fielding surgically constricted Jodie's stomach with a procedure called gastric banding. It's like a girdle for the stomach. Thorough a tiny incision, a silicon band is tied around the upper part of the stomach. This narrows the stomach and causes patients to feel full.

"If you keep the band tight, you are not hungry — and if you are not hungry, you don't eat," Fielding says.

Fielding says most of his teen patients will lose about 60 percent of their excess weight in the first year.

"Before, I felt like I was holding a huge bag of weight," says teen Daniel Castro. "Now I feel so light and livelier and it is awesome."

Castro, who's 18, has dropped 170 pounds since his surgery a year and a half ago. He also dropped his odds of serious health issues like diabetes and heart disease.

"I had sleep apnea, I had high blood pressure, I had back and knee problems," he explains.

Says Fielding, "It's the only treatment that works for the morbidly obese. Not only does it treat their fat, but (it) cures with the diseases that goes with the fat."

But the procedure is not without its critics.

"What concerns me is that we are committing this child to a lifelong lap band, and we don't know the implications of that approach," says Dr. William Dietz, with the CDC Division of Nutrition and Physical Exercise.

But the device is reversible. In fact, about 1 in 300 adult patients ask t have the band removed, mostly to return to old eating habits. Other complications include perforation of the stomach and malfunction of the band.

Three weeks after the surgery, Jodie has lost 21 pounds and already gained something more.

"I am more confident about myself, definitely," she says. "I have totally helped my self-esteem and everything."

For more information, the here for resources from the American Society of Bariatric Physicians.

Also the NYU Program for Surgical Weightloss Web site has more information on surgery options.