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Your opinion -- weight loss surgery for kids....

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Old 02-04-2007, 09:13 PM   #1
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Default Your opinion -- weight loss surgery for kids....

Found this article on line -- curious what everyone thinks. I have mixed emotions -- having been overweight as a child I can understand wanting it done, but not sure if this is the best option.
NEW YORK(AP) As the popularity of stomach surgery has skyrocketed among obese adults, a growing number of doctors are asking, "Why not children, too?"

For decades, the number of kids trying weight-loss surgery has been tiny. The operations themselves were risky, with a death rate of about 1 in 50. Children rarely got that fat, and when they did, pediatricians hesitated to put the developing bodies under the knife. Only 350 U.S. kids had such an operation in 2004, according to federal statistics.

But improvements in surgical technique and huge increases in the number of dangerously obese children have begun fueling a change of heart.

A group of four hospitals, led by Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, are starting a large-scale study this spring examining how children respond to various types of weight-loss surgery, including the gastric bypass, in which a pouch is stapled off from the rest of the stomach and connected to the small intestine.

Three more hospitals have approval from the Food and Drug Administration to test how teens fare with a procedure called laparoscopic gastric banding, where an elastic collar installed around the stomach limits how much someone can eat.

The FDA has hesitated to approve the gastric band for children, but surgeons at New York University Medical Center reported in the Journal of Pediatric Surgery this month that the device holds promise.

The 53 boys and girls, aged 13 to 17, who participated in NYU's study shed nearly half their excess weight over 18 months, while suffering relatively minor complications.

Crystal Kasprowicz, of St. James, N.Y., said she lost 100 pounds from her 250-pound frame after having the band installed at age 17.

"I'm a totally different person," she said.

Before the procedure, Kasprowicz said she took medication for a rapid heartbeat and was showing signs of developing diabetes. Every effort she made to stop getting bigger failed. Dieting didn't work, she said. Her heart problems made it hard to exercise. Even walking up stairs was a challenge.

Now, she's off the heart drugs. Her blood-sugar levels are in check. She also feels better about herself.

"I'm very outgoing now," said Kasprowicz. "I hike a lot ... I go to the beach in the summer now. I'm not as self-conscious when I go shopping for clothing."

Similar studies are under way at the University of Illinois Medical Center in Chicago and at the Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of New York-Presbyterian, which recently opened a weight-loss surgery center for teens. Doctors there expect to conduct about 50 operations this year.
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Old 02-04-2007, 10:03 PM   #2
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We are in a very different world these days. I was nearly 300 lbs as a 14 yr old and I think when I started gaining awareness of my food actions and my weight, I would've loved for something to help me lose weight quickly.

I would be worried more about nutrients of teenagers just because as teenagers we don't make the best decisions and if your food is limited anyway, how do you as a parent deal with that? I'm not so sure I'd recommend gastric bypass for a teenager but I think perhaps lapband would be a viable option if it is warranted. I am not happy that I have been overweight all of my remembered life but I am happy that I got the choice on how to deal with my weight loss and deal with the issues of my weight. For me, if I was a teenager, I'm not sure I could've properly made the right decision for myself.

Also, weight gain will happen if they don't deal with the issues that caused them to gain weight in the first place. Psychological counseling as well as helping them maintain their weight loss would be key.
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Old 02-04-2007, 10:17 PM   #3
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Boy I have such mixed emotions about this. There was a Discovery Health Channel show about a 16 or 17 year old boy who had WLS, and even watching the show, I had such mixed emotions. In one aspect it was a great thing for the young man. He lost a lot of weight and was going back to high school to try to get his diploma (he had dropped out because of his weight). On the other hand, his parents and his siblings felt that he had never tried to lose weight on his own. They felt like he was doing this as an easy out - there words not mine. He wasn't following the doctor's orders eating his protein like he was supposed to. But overall, it improved the quality of his life rather drastically.

Nonetheless, I couldn't see myself seeking this for my child.
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Old 02-04-2007, 10:22 PM   #4
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Nelie -- I agree with you, the surgery can't fix the problem that caused the child to be overweight in the first place. I do know first hand how horrible it feels to be a teenager and overweight, but I think the medical risks don't warrant the surgery for a child.

Jtammy -- I've seen shows on adults having the surgery who weren't prepared for the consequences after the fact and a teenager I think would be less prepared. As a parent, I question whether I would be able to guide my child either toward something that was not a lifesaving measure.
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Old 02-04-2007, 11:09 PM   #5
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My opinion? I'm absolutely appalled.
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Old 02-04-2007, 11:23 PM   #6
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A terrible idea, I think. Kids need to learn to prevent the problem, not just have the problem carved away, to come right back again. My heart goes out to overweight kids, but I don't think surgery is the right way to go. They need to learn to eat right and exercise more .... like all of us who battle the pounds.
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Old 02-05-2007, 01:40 AM   #7
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I watched an episode of Scientific American Frontiers that showed a small device that is put in via laparascope (think pacemaker) that sends an electronic pulse that controls appetite. They were working on developing this as a solution to help children. I would say something like this or the lapband may be more appropriate than gastric bypass surgery... but still, seems like you should try EVERYTHING before doing this. Especially for a child.
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Old 02-05-2007, 08:20 AM   #8
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I'm kind of surprised a surgeon would perform weight loss surgery on a child. I agree that the little "pacemaker" appetite suppressant would be better but it's so sad that people even think surgery for a child, instead of trying to help them do it naturally, healthy and with diet and exercise. I also think that even taking your child for surgery is telling them that there is something wrong with them and puts the emphasis on their appearance. I understand the health problems related with obesity, but as a parent I think it's my job to try to keep them active and healthy and hopefully not let them get overweight (like me )
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Old 02-05-2007, 08:29 AM   #9
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Education. I belive education is a better alternative to surgery. Of course Ithink that education should begin BEFORE obesity is a problem. That education should come from school and from HOME. This country is terribly uneducated about nutrition.

Having said that, being an obese child/teenager has got to be incredibly, incredibly difficult. But it is NOT irreversible. I think if a child is willing to undergo surgery, they should be willing to undergo a complete lifestyle change. And if a parent is willing to allow a child to undergo surgery that parent must make every effort to help that child without surgery. It also concerns me that I see many success stories right away with surgery and then they fall right back into old patterns and end up right back where they started from. Surgery is NOT a magic pill. There is still hard work to be done. I think kids and their parents are not fully aware of this.

Of course every case is different and every family must decide for themselves what is best.
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Old 02-05-2007, 08:31 AM   #10
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IMHO surgery is a tool, not a cure. Kids should be taught and they need to learn what is healthy eating first before even considering WLS because you can gain weight even after having WLS. Good habits are easier formed and stick with you when your younger than when your 40+.

Unless the child has other serious medical issues I don't think surgery is a good idea.
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Old 02-05-2007, 08:40 AM   #11
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This is a really hard one. I have a 14 yr. old DD that has struggled a little with her weight. (about 15-20 lbs.). I have taught her how to read food labels, prepared her food and snacks to take to school with her, exercised with her, eliminated junk food from the house (except some low-cal snack food for her), taken her to the doctor for his help and advice. Done everything I know to do to help her because she truly wants to lose any extra lbs. before it gets further out of hand. I really don't think I could ever agree to my child being put at this risk by having a WLS. But, if her health was truly affected by the weight, I might think differently. It's impossible to know for sure, until you've walked "in someone else's shoes".
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Old 02-05-2007, 11:23 AM   #12
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When I read the thread title I thought smaller kids...like 10, 11, 12.

Surgery for a 17 year old? I think that is pretty close enough to an adult. 17 year olds can consent to other surgeries. Perhaps once adult height is achieved, and lifestyle measures have not worked, then it might be considered. I also realize that for many who choose WLS, they have spent years struggling with the lifestyle measures before deciding upon sx. Has a 17 year old had years to try food and movement modification?

If it is a last resort, teens probably haven't spent enough time on the other resorts.

I guess I am saying, I don't really know!
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Old 02-05-2007, 12:02 PM   #13
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Have to say, I think I agree with Midwife . . . I just don't know. I think surgery should be a last resort for everyone. They should try everything else first. This is especially true for the younger people . . . IMHO, at 17 or so, they can't possibly have tried enough alternatives yet.
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Old 02-05-2007, 01:25 PM   #14
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Not too sure...I think first off that the surgery wouldn't be needed if the parents would do something before the child got to a point where they thought they needed surgery. I'm talking like before reaching the teen years.
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Old 02-05-2007, 03:45 PM   #15
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I have to say that allowing morbidly obese children have weight loss surgery is highly unethical. Not only are we saying "well, if you get fat, just have surgery", we are not anywhere near fixing the problem.
Being a morbidly obese child is not just the child's problem. It is a family problem. We can take the weight away with surgery, but it doesn't fix a damn thing - especially when the child comes from a family of food pushers, is around relatives who are uneducated about nutrition, or has a family that just doesn't care what they eat. They will only get fat again - especially if they don't understand the concept of lifestyle changes; and most don't.

Having this surgery for children is just riddled with complications waiting to happen. What child only wants to eat a few ounces per meal and it must be healthy at that... no more candy, no more junk food... practically forever. They would be at high risk for Dumping syndrome and malnutrition - especially given the mentality of the typical teenager (I would argue that normal weight teenagers suffer from malnutrition, just because of all the sugar and fat and lack of vitamins/well balanced meals).

I don't even like the idea of weight loss surgery for adults and I think the medical community needs to be more selective in who gets the surgery as it is... but it shouldn't be offered to children until all avenues have geniunely been exhausted.
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