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Saturday, December 23, 2006

Stomach surgery 'needed for teens'

"Surgeons are calling for children to be offered publicly funded stomach-stapling operations in a bid to treat soaring rates of extreme obesity.

New Zealand hospitals have been reluctant to consider weight-loss operations in young adolescents because of the risks of major surgery, and the potential for long-term complications such as nutrient deficiency.
However, growing numbers of teenagers are so overweight they are suffering diseases previously seen almost exclusively in adults.
These include type-2 diabetes, sleep apnoea, high blood pressure and gall bladder disease.
Some are at risk of heart attacks and strokes in their 20s.
Paediatric surgeons are saying it is time to make stomach-stapling surgery more readily available with the complicated health needs of morbidly obese adolescents now impacting on the care of other children.... The surgery can cost between $12,000 and $20,000 and about 400 a year were done, most on adults and only a handful publicly funded. "
To read the full article, click on the title above.
Gary Moller comments:This kind of surgery produces a very uncomfortable feeling in my gut. The reason why is that stomach stapling surgery is an over-priced solution that, at best, only indirectly targets the cause which is the lifestyle of the positionally challenged. It is symptomatic of irresponsible, neglectful parenting, poor food choices and a societal bureaucracy that engenders a fear of all things natural, including the outdoors, sunshine and water.

There is an alternative to stomach stapling: I used to run rehabilitation programmes for long term Accident Compensation clients: people who had been seriously injured, incompletely rehabilitated following surgery, consequently losing their jobs and becoming unemployable due to ongoing health problems, loss of work skills, confidence and poor personal habits.

Rehabilitation focussed on gradually replacing old unhealthy habits with healthy ones. This was a challenging process that took 12 weeks to be successful. Successful it was, and almost without exception - and for a cost of from $3-$6,000. What was a constant frustration were the constant demands by the health and funding agencies to cut back on the cost of these programmes, the preference being to spend their money on high technology surgical solutions at quadruple the cost or more. These intervention programme were progressively reduced to about 5 weeks for several hundred dollars - effectively rendering them a complete waste of time.

The same model of gradual behavioural change can and should be applied in cases of extreme childhood and teen obesity and they need to involve the entire family. Costing probably no more than $6,000 and lasting 12 weeks, the outcome will be fit, strong and healthy families that play together.

This is a far better prospect than surgically turning out thinner teens who then face uncertain lives that are still a constant daily preoccupation with food and at serious risk of malnutrition-related ailments and shortened lives.

Note: The Google Adsense ads to the right of this article can interesting to peruse. You will see that there is quite an industry, involving drugs and surgery, surrounding obesity. It is no conicidence that the call by surgeons for public funding of this kind of surgery for teens comes at the time of year of greatest over-indulgence and just in time to capitalise on all the New Year's resolutions for weight loss. Am I just being too cynical?)


Wayne said...

it wont stop these children from going on to suffer from and die from heart disease, stroke and diabetes and cancer from a poor diet it will reduce how overweight they are only

Anonymous said...

This seems to be yet another " instant fix" aimed not at the cause, and it must carry serious risks as all surgery does- from infection, anaesthetic etc.

Not to mention spending time in hospital, which is very obviously full of sick people!

Surely such kids can learn to enjoy a vigorous lifestyle that is not going to damage them.

Why do the "cures" we so often read about, totally neglect the cause?