Losing the Tonsils Packs on the Pounds for Children

The journal Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery published research in their February, 2011 issue that found children who have undergone a tonsillectomy have also gained weight.

Researchers reviewed nine studies that spanned a 40-year period. The review studied the weight of 795 children, ages 0 to 18 years, before a tonsillectomy and for eight years after the procedure. The results showed that over 50 percent of the children had gained weight.

A tonsillectomy is the most common operation done on children. Each year, over one-half of a million children have their tonsils removed. Tonsils are a defensive organ and part of the lymphatic system. Their main job is to trap bacteria and viruses entering into the body through the mouth.

The children who had their tonsils removed gained approximately 7 percent more weight after the surgery. These results are alarming considering the number of children in the US who are obese. The Center for Disease Control has determined that 18 percent of children ages 12-19 are obese, 20 percent of children ages 6-11 are obese, and 10 percent of children ages 2 -5 are obese.

Obesity is a major cause of diabetes, high-blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease. The review’s findings showed that some normal weighted children were pushed into the overweight range after surgery, and overweight children were determined to be obese after surgery.

Although a correlation between the surgery and weight gain has been shown, the cause of the weight gain in children after a tonsillectomy is still not known. In a February 1, 2011 interview with Reuters Health, Dr. Anita Jeyakumar, an ear nose and throat specialist at Saint Louis University in Missouri who worked on the study stated, “For some patients, the surgery might be considered more of a risk than a benefit.”

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