Evidence in adults suggests that improvements in cognitive performance may follow weight loss resulting from bariatric surgery, and baseline cognitive performance may be associated with weight loss following surgery. This has not been evaluated in adolescents.
Participants were 38 adolescents of age 14–21 years composed of three groups: (1) 12 adolescents with severe obesity who received vertical sleeve gastrectomy during the study (VSG); (2) 14 adolescents with severe obesity who were wait-listed for VSG (WL); and (3) 12 healthy weight controls (HC). Participants completed testing of visual memory, verbal memory, and executive functioning at baseline (T1), which occurred presurgery for the VSG group, and approximately 4 months after baseline (T2). Body mass index (BMI) was assessed at T1, T2, and additionally at 6 months following VSG for the adolescents who received surgery.
Although there was evidence of greater improvement for the VSG as compared with WL and HC groups in visual and verbal memory, group differences did not reach significance and effect sizes were small (η2 < 0.01). There was a significant positive association between indices of baseline executive functioning and excess BMI loss at 6 months postsurgery.
This small pilot study showed no significant differences by group in cognitive performance post-VSG. There was a significant association of baseline cognitive performance with weight loss outcomes. Given the very preliminary nature of these results in a small sample, future research should examine these relationships in a larger sample and evaluate mechanisms of these associations (e.g., insulin resistance, sleep, physical activity).