Bariatric + Pediatric = Bad Combination
Most of the overweight young people I see in the office have overweight or obese parents. Oftentimes, despite a child’s size and health issues or risks, many of these parents are in denial of the consequences of a do-nothing attitude, and they are resistant to acknowledging the role they played in their child’s obesity. Many wouldn’t have brought their child in if their pediatrician hadn’t intervened (and almost always pediatricians don't intervene soon enough!).
As obesity among young people continues to rise, these are the parents most likely to consider the option of weight loss surgery for their adolescents and teens. After all, if they didn’t want to do the work necessary to achieve their own slim weight in a healthy, habit-forming way, well . . . how can they do so for their kids? Here’s the hard truth: Kids don’t become obese on their own. Childhood obesity is a result of adult behavior. Parents create the environment in which their children grow. It's parents who don't want to shop for the right food, prepare it correctly, portion it appropriately, and feed it to their kids. Obese parents with a laissez faire attitude towards their own weight perpetuate that in their children. THAT is the issue, plain and simple.
It's becoming easier for these parents to hand their kids off to a surgical procedure. It's as if 'bariatric surgery' is on a check list right below 'pills, powdered drinks, packaged foods' and other quick-fixes that didn't work for their kids.
Yet, let's remember what bariatric operations, which fall into three categories, are:
- Restrictive procedures make the stomach smaller to limit the amount of food intake.
- Malabsorptive techniques reduce the amount of intestine that comes in contact with food so the body absorbs fewer calories.
- Combination operations employ both restriction and malabsorption.
. . . and all of them are about stopping the normal function of the digestive system. The more effective surgeries (like Gastric Bypass) actually disconnect or remove healthy organs. Removing healthy organs is not the solution to bad food or bad habits.
I have seen countless number of adults over the years who came to me after bariatric surgery didn’t turn out to be the invasive ‘magic fix’ they thought it would be and after they gained all their weight back.
I have seen several adults who traveled to Mexico for bariatric surgery because it was cheaper. When they had complications later on and c