Childhood Obesity – Is Gastric Bypass Surgery Right For Teens?

Yesterday I wrote a bit about food addiction after catching one of the morning shows. I was bummed I could not remember which show to share the link to the segment. I don’t watch much TV anymore, so I considered myself very lucky when I turned on the TV last night and saw the same segment would be running later on Nightline. But I got hooked on the current segment about a 400 pound teen opting for gastric bypass surgery.

This boy, Nick lives with his overweight Mom who had her stomach stapled years ago. I was saddened to see she had obviously learned nothing about eating right or exercising from her experience, which should always take place before going under the knife for weight loss. She had passed on her horrible eating habits and other poor lifestyle habits to her son. Her parents probably passed on their unhealthy habits to her. Lack of nutritional knowledge is moving from generation to generation and we have to put a STOP to it.

I have had to have some serious conversations with obese clients that plan to have children. My main goal with the conversation is for them to realize if they don’t get healthy, their child is doomed to suffer from obesity as they have. 70% of children with overweight parents will become overweight adults. I believe most parents want what is best for their children and would spare their children from any pain possible. Being an obese child and adult is very painful. I don’t have to tell you about bullying, the lack of dates, the added health complications and sometimes very serious depression. It’s on a news show daily. So why aren’t parents taking this more serious? Why are they opting to put their children under the knife? Well, there are many reasons. Some parents don’t see their kids as fat until it’s too late. There are so many fat kids now that fat is the new average weight. This does not mean it is any less detrimental to their health and futures. Many of these parents also lack the education of what is healthy and/or nutrient dense. Lastly, people are still looking for a quick fix. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix.

I was mortified when the mother opened her fridge last night. I did not see one fruit or vegetable. In fact neither mom or son had tasted Broccoli before! I would wager that means they have not tasted a lot of other vegetables. Then Cynthia McFadden from Nightline pulled out hot dogs and the mother responded, those are turkey hot dogs. Like, turkey hot dogs are super nutritional. Turkey or not, hot dogs are a processed food, which are fine once in awhile, but by the 400 pound weight issue of her son I would guess turkey hotdogs were a regular meal. Now I don’t want to seem like I am completely slamming the mom. I think it took great bravery and love for her son to be on Nightline and show the world that refrigerator and admit she too struggles. She had also started taking exercise classes with her son and was working on  learning to eat better. I give her kudos for that and I pray her sons story really hits home for some families, so they can make healthy changes in their lives.

Well I have wrote about surgery for weight loss before, so those of you that follow me know I am completely against it when it is obvious there was never work on the mind or the body. I am especially apposed when it  is a teenager. Yes, now Nick is losing weight at a fast clip, but how is that going to affect his metabolism in the future? I will tell you, it’s going to slow down, so if he doesn’t learn to eat right and exercise for the rest of his life, he will gain the weight back, just as his mom did.

I am glad for Nick though. He was so happy with his weight loss, I would be a real meany if I wasn’t cheering the kid on. I especially loved it when he said, “I want to be a chic magnet”. Go Nick! I hope he is and that he keeps the weight off the rest of his life.

I loved the twitter talk about the whole thing last night too. You can follow it at #foodfight. A number of wellness professionals, including myself offered some free coaching for teens contemplating this surgery. Pretty cool!

So what can we do? The childhood obesity epidemic is enormous. I have a few tips for people.

1. If you are thinking of having children, whether you are overweight or not, take a nutrition course and start making physical activity a priority. I know you want your future child to be healthy and happy. That child will emulate what you do, so prepare to be a role model now. For now, here is some free information to get you started.

2. If you are already dealing with weight issues in your family, it’s never to late to work for the better. You can do it! Take a nutrition course and get active now. Plan fun, physical activities for your family.

3. If you feel like you can’t do it on your own, seek assistance. You have to get your mind straight and believe you and your family can be healthy first. You may need a psychologist or a coach. You may also want to consider a weight loss coach and/or trainer. Just make sure you check their backgrounds thoroughly.

Hopefully as Nightline and other media outlets continue to share these types of stories more and more lives will be touched and changed for the better. By the way, here is the Nighline story, 400 Pound Teen Opts for Gastric Bypass!

If you or your teen is contemplating gastric bypass surgery I would love to talk to you about other options to try first. You can reach me at

I know how painful you must feel right now if you are morbidly obese. You can get healthier and thinner. It will take some time, but you can do it! I believe in you!





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