I recently watched a segment of the Today show where they talked about the increase in weight loss surgery for teens. I find this idea very frightening. Childhood obesity rates are on the rise. According to the CDC, 12.5 million kids age 2 to 19 are obese in this country. That is 3 times more obese kids than there were in 1980. We have to do something about these exploding obesity rates or our kids are going to start dying very young from obesity related complications. Surgery, though, should be the very last option.
The kids they interviewed who had gone through with the surgery both said that they had been heavy all of their lives, and that they had tried everything to lose weight. They both talked about trying diet and exercise, but did not describe their weight loss attempts any further, so I don’t know exactly what they tried, but I have a feeling that they didn’t try the right things.
We live in a toxic environment where it is nearly impossible to maintain a healthy weight. And what makes it more dangerous is that many of us don’t see it as toxic, we see it as normal. We can’t teach our kids about nutrition or model a healthy lifestyle for them, and that is why we are having this obesity problem. Talk to most teens and their idea of a diet is eating nothing at all with a side of diet coke. So when they say they’ve tried everything, I believe they may have tried a lot and that it’s been very hard. But I doubt they had the resources, support and information they needed for healthy weight loss and the even harder healthy weight maintenance. And we don’t know what their families are like. These kids still live at home with their parents; they probably don’t buy their own groceries or cook their own meals. So much of their success depends on the home environment, which may be very much out of their hands. Good programs designed to tackle all of these issues are few and far between.
In the Today segment, a doctor on the show called weight loss surgery a tool to aid in weight loss. The only time that surgery should be performed is in a life or death situation, it should not be a tool, it should be a last resort. We are talking about kids as young as 14 getting this surgery and facing a lifetime of complications. We shouldn’t be using medical interventions like surgery to fix preventable problems. We all need to become educated on balanced eating, real whole foods and healthy lifestyle so that we can create an environment where our kids don’t have to make life or death decisions because of their weight.
Do you think teens are too young to have weight loss surgery? According to a poll on the msnbc website, only 51% of people think teens are too young. The other 49% believe they are old enough. Yikes.