Why are teengers being pushed into weight-loss surgery so quickly?

Why are teengers being pushed into weight-loss surgery so quickly?

Davis : CA : USA | Jan 08, 2012 at 1:50 PM PST
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first vist with dr robert davis 9-30-10

Should the government permit weight loss surgery for teenagers as young as 14 instead of the age 18 minimum presently? See the January 7, 2012, New York Times article by Anemona Hartocollis, "Young, Obese and in Surgery. Locally, in the Sacramento and Davis regional area, at U.C. Davis, bariatric surgery is the best current treatment for morbid obesity and encompasses surgical procedures that produce significant and sustained weight loss. See, Surgery Obesity.

Are there too many surgeries for obese teenagers? Nationally, some 15 percent of children are overweight or obese, as are some 60 percent of adults. Could your teenager's obesity be due to sensitivity to wheat and too much bread or bakery products made from wheat or gluten?

The UC Davis Bariatric Surgery Program offers a comprehensive solution for surgical weight loss that is focused on long-term success. The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) has recognized the excellence of this program with the designation as a Center of Excellence for bariatric surgery.

UC Davis offers a program for the surgical treatment of obesity. The program is staffed by Mohamed Ali, M.D.; Jonathan Pierce, M.D.; Judy Yamasaki, R.N., B.S.N., nurse coordinator; Abigail Weston, R.N., M.S., F.N.P.; Alisa Edwinson, N.P.; Anna Peters, N.P.; Toni Piechota, M.S., M.P.H., R.D.; Jane McClay, Psy.D.; Elizabeth Martinez, new patient referral coordinator; Alexis Trombley, surgical coordinator; and Tiffany Wong, nurse coordinator assistant.

Also see, LAP-BAND® Weight Loss - Covered by most PPO Insurance. And check out the article, Bariatric Surgery in Severely Obese Adolescents Debated. For teenagers, usually surgeons perform lap-band weight-loss surgery. In Sacramento, as in across the entire USA, the news media repeats that there's an obesity epidemic in America has come an explosion in weight-loss surgery, with about 220,000 operations a year — a sevenfold leap in a decade, according to industry figures — costing more than $6 billion a year.

And the newest frontier is young patients in their teenage years. In the New York Times article, one teenager has been followed for a year after the weight loss surgery operation. For most obese teenagers, it's a mission or quest to navigate the issues of losing weight and keeping a balance. It's also about self-image and relationships with family members and friends.

Too many teens are being made fun of, scolded, and told to lose weight by peers and relatives as well as their health care teams. What's the problem with hunger not being taken care of with nourishing, but non-too-fattening soups instead of solid foods for obese teens?

The long-term effectiveness of weight-loss surgery, particularly stomach banding, is still in question by many physicians. Should teens be rushed and pushed toward surgery? Many doctors are resisting. Is the lap band too drastic?

An obese teenager's body might still be developing. Perhaps the teenager has not had time to lose weight by nutrition education that involves the entire family members who do the shopping and cooking. Is time the problem--teens not having enough time to cook properly or not used to raw food diets, small portion size, or foods that are not always sweet, salty, or oily?

Why the rush? According to the NY Times article, one percent to 2 percent of all weight-loss, or bariatric, operations are on patients under 21, but studies are under way to gauge the outcomes of surgery on children as young as 12. You can follow the money. The industry that produces lap-bands has to make money selling the lap-bands. Are the teenagers being targeted as a new market for weight-loss surgery products?

Allergan, the maker of the popular Lap-Band, a surgically inserted silicone band that constricts the stomach to make the patient feel full quickly, is seeking permission from the Food and Drug Administration to market it to patients as young as 14, four years younger than is now allowed. Hospitals across the country have opened bariatric centers for adolescents in recent years.

Many doctors will tell parents that their child's diet usually fails. And kids can work with nutritionists rather than rush into surgery. Most advice not to eat white rice, for example and to eat less grains or at least black rice may not be heeded, if people are familiar with traditional foods that make some teens gain weight, like the high Glycemic Index value of white rice.

Dieting and exercise may not work with some teens. Presently there's a National Institutes of Health study of weight-loss surgery on teenagers. Should health professionals tell teenagers they should undergo surgery to use the Lap-Band? After all, the surgery is reversible and relatively low risk, say some doctors.

To even get a Lap-Band, the person needs a minimum B.M.I. of 40, or 35 for people with at least one other related health problem. Last February (2011), the F.D.A. reduced the minimum B.M.I. for patients with another problem to 30, the threshold of obesity.

So if you're on the threshold of obesity, and many teenagers are, do you really need surgery? What if you just reduce portion size and stick with a vegan diet that's 35 percent fiber and 50 percent raw vegetables, lots of soups, and fish? What if you cut out wheat and most types of bread? What if you exercise with stretches right for you rather than exercise that tires you out too much?

If a woman gets pregnant, the lap band is decompressed, for example. There's other issues such as loose skin after weight loss. Would loose skin lead to more surgery for tummy tucks or even arm tucks? The dilemma is whether teenagers need weight-loss surgery or a better regimen of eating and some exercise.

If diets don't work most of the time, the issue could be portion size or other problems dealing with hormones, glands, and a need for balance in the child's life. What would you do if you were a teenager with an obesity issue? Lap-Band? Or reduce the portion size of food rather than the size of your stomach, even if it's temporary?

And what happens if the band slips off inside you? Think over the issue. There are many parents of teens in Sacramento contemplating weight loss surgery. How far would you go to lose the stomach space instead of the portion size of the food? The idea is balance and dense nutrition rather than lots of starchy fillers or an imbalance. Maybe you need a change of oil? It's one issue in the news that affects many families.

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Dealing with teenage obesity.
Are teenagers being pushed into weight-loss surgery too soon? Or are some doctors saying that teens are not yet finishing developing their bodies and should not have weight loss surgery? Which side are most doctors on with the issue of teenage obesity sweeping the nation?
AnneHart is based in Sacramento, California, United States of America, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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