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Girth Control: Drastic Surgical Measures for Obese Children

There are also complications that come from these two surgeries, like intestinal leakage, bowel obstruction, and various nutritional deficiencies. Recipients of this surgery must adhere to strict nutritional and activity guidelines in order to avoid severe complications. This sort of discipline is often in short supply even among the most dedicated teenager.

Some researchers fear that as this sort of weight-loss surgery gains momentum for children and teens, some doctors will elect to operate on patients who should not have the surgery, and would be better suited to less radical measures. There also remains a concern that such successes, even if they remain with the severely obese, will detract from national efforts to improve nutrition, combat obesity, and promote exercise. In essence, by embracing this option, are we effectively giving up on the children who struggle with these severe weight problems and telling them they cannot change?

We still do not know what the long-term effects of this surgery might be (a gastric band might need to be in place for some 70 years on some of the younger recipients). Complications and medical scares aside, is there something a bit off about embracing this severe option? Sure there are candidates who are morbidly obese that will not likely live to see their 30s, but they are in the minority. With roughly 40 percent of the country’s population overweight, what sort of message are we sending with our advocacy of these procedures? Do the immediate improvements from these two procedures justify altering a child’s digestive system, probably for life?

Read more: Children, Diet & Nutrition, Eating for Health, Family, Fitness, General Health, Healthy Schools, Parenting at the Crossroads, , , , , , ,

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.

96 comments

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5:59PM PDT on Jun 2, 2012

If children are obese,have a lot of health issues and have tried everything else,then it may be time to look into G.B.S.

5:58PM PDT on Jun 2, 2012

If children are obese,have a lot of health issues and have tried everything else,then it may be time to look into G.B.S.

5:56PM PDT on Jun 2, 2012

I had gastric bypass surgery done in September of 2010 and I have lost 150#,am no longer a diabetic,no longer have high cholesterol or high blood pressure,am off of 22 medications and feel great;however am not sure I would recommend it for children.
Gastric bypass sugery is not the easy way out as many people believe.....

12:15AM PDT on May 13, 2010

gastric bypass surgery is the easy way out. parents need to take responsibility and teach their kids healthy lifestyle habits. eating right & exercising is the best and safest way to lose weight and stay healthy.

9:49AM PDT on Apr 14, 2010

Thanks

9:24AM PDT on Mar 14, 2010

thanks for the information

9:13AM PST on Mar 9, 2010

I was an obese child and teenager, and while I always secretly wished I would somehow be able to afford gastric bypass, I knew it wasn't an option for me. So I ponied up and lost weight the old fashioned way (and the safest way I know) by exercising and educating myself about food and nutrition. In my opinion, education is a parent's biggest and most permanent tool against obesity, while gastric bypass seems to be (for lack of a better term, because I know the surgery must be a painful, expensive, and drawn-out process) the quick fix everyone always hopes for. Education puts the power to change in your hands and your child's hands, while gastric bypass puts the power (and your money) in the hands of the medical system.

9:13AM PST on Mar 9, 2010

I was an obese child and teenager, and while I always secretly wished I would somehow be able to afford gastric bypass, I knew it wasn't an option for me. So I ponied up and lost weight the old fashioned way (and the safest way I know) by exercising and educating myself about food and nutrition. In my opinion, education is a parent's biggest and most permanent tool against obesity, while gastric bypass seems to be (for lack of a better term, because I know the surgery must be a painful, expensive, and drawn-out process) the quick fix everyone always hopes for. Education puts the power to change in your hands and your child's hands, while gastric bypass puts the power (and your money) in the hands of the medical system.

9:13AM PST on Mar 9, 2010

I was an obese child and teenager, and while I always secretly wished I would somehow be able to afford gastric bypass, I knew it wasn't an option for me. So I ponied up and lost weight the old fashioned way (and the safest way I know) by exercising and educating myself about food and nutrition. In my opinion, education is a parent's biggest and most permanent tool against obesity, while gastric bypass seems to be (for lack of a better term, because I know the surgery must be a painful, expensive, and drawn-out process) the quick fix everyone always hopes for. Education puts the power to change in your hands and your child's hands, while gastric bypass puts the power (and your money) in the hands of the medical system.

9:12AM PST on Mar 9, 2010

I was an obese child and teenager, and while I always secretly wished I would somehow be able to afford gastric bypass, I knew it wasn't an option for me. So I ponied up and lost weight the old fashioned way (and the safest way I know) by exercising and educating myself about food and nutrition. In my opinion, education is a parent's biggest and most permanent tool against obesity, while gastric bypass seems to be (for lack of a better term, because I know the surgery must be a painful, expensive, and drawn-out process) the quick fix everyone always hopes for. Education puts the power to change in your hands and your child's hands, while gastric bypass puts the power (and your money) in the hands of the medical system.

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