Weight Loss Surgery for Teens?

The obesity ”epidemic” is now old news, but it is scaring the heck out of medical practitioners since we know that the very heavy children we are now seeing will have chronic illnesses such as Type II diabetes, hypertension, fatty liver, gall bladder disease and chronic hip problems 20 to 30 years earlier than their parents did.

This change in disease patterns will change society. Although all economic levels and all racial and ethnic groups are affected by trend toward being overweight, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that risk may be higher for kids from lower-income families. And University of Pennsylvania childhood obesity experts report that nearly a quarter of Mexican American adolescent boys were obese in 1999–2002, compared to 19 percent of African Americans and 15 percent of whites. And among teen-age girls, 24 percent of African Americans, 20 percent of Mexican Americans, and 13 percent of whites were obese.

The medical resources needed to treat the “metabolic syndrome (the sum of the side effects of chronic obesity)” will soar, permanent disability will occur at younger ages and even life expectancy could start going down again.

In addition, although reasonable diet and regular exercise will usually prevent unhealthy weight, the same regime is not that good for losing extra weight. The body defends its extra weight as it awaits for the next famine: The hormone ghrelin rises, giving us a big appetite, while the hormone leptin decreases and so does our metabolic rate and our ability to mobilize and lose fat, while the compound Peptide YY increases so we can never feel satisfied about eating enough.

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