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Weight Gain After Adenotonsillectomy Not Linked to Obesity

Update Date: Apr 17, 2014 07:04 PM EDT

Children tend to gain weight after getting their tonsils removed. This effect is particularly pronounced in kids who are smaller and younger at the time of surgery. However, the latest study reveals that weight gain after tonsil removal is not related to obesity.

Around half a million children in the U.S. get their tonsils removed each year. However, the recent childhood obesity epidemic has prompted a second look at the link between weight gain and adenotonsillectomy.

The latest study involved 815 patients who were aged 18 years and younger. All participants had undergone adenotonsillectomy from 2007 through October 2012.

The findings revealed that children who were smaller, or who were in the 1st through 60th percentiles for weight, and who were younger than four at the time of surgery gained the most weight after surgery. However, children older than eight gained the least weight.

Researchers noted that children who were heavier or above the 80th percentile in weight before surgery did not gain weight.

The findings also revealed that weight percentiles in the study population increased by an average of 6.3 percentile points 18 months after surgery, and body mass index percentiles increased by an average 8 percentile points.

"Despite the finding that many children gain weight and have higher BMIs after tonsillectomy, in our study, the proportion of children who were obese (BMI >95th percentile) before surgery (14.5 percent) remained statistically unchanged after surgery (16.3 percent). On the basis of this work, adenotonsillectomy does not correlate with increased rates of childhood obesity," lead researcher Dr. Josephine A. Czechowicz of Stanford University School of Medicine, California, said in a news release.

The findings were published in the journal JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.

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