New-York Presbyterian has a taken a giant step forward in curtailing America's childhood obesity problem. The hospital has just opened a Center for Adolescent for Bariatric Surgery at its Morgan's Stanley's Children's Hospital. In doing so, this New York hospital powerhouse will be one of the first in the country to offer this procedure, also known as gastric banding, to kids as young as 14. So far six teens have undergone the surgery and four more are planned before the end of the year. Up to 40 more kids are currently enrolled in a weight-loss program to become eligible to go under the knife this spring.

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Gastric banding, the procedure of choice these days, is less invasive than good-old fashioned gastric stapling and can be performed laporascopically. Basically, a small band is placed around the top of the stomach, creating a small pocket where food is diverted. This leads to patients feeling fuller faster, ultimately eating less. In addition to the immediate benefit of not being teased on the playground, losing weight would offer the additional healthy perks of avoiding diabetes, sleep apnea, and adulthood obesity. But this is not say that the procedure is risk free: the band can slip out of place and need to be adjusted, requiring an additional procedure. And remember people, surgery is still surgery, no matter how minor!

The Daily News has some profiles of teenage patients who have and who will be having the procedure. For more information on the procedure, check out the NIH site. Famous gastric bypass surgery recipient Sharon Osbourne has decided to have her bypass band removed.