Is it Acceptable for Children to have Gastric Bypass Surgery

In an ideal world children would not be getting themselves into the position of being obese in the first place, but as statistics seem to indicate the opposite is true, with ever-increasing numbers of children being classed as overweight or obese. Of course, it is not children’s fault that they weigh more than is considered healthy for them, particularly when they are too young to make their own dietary decisions. It seems to be parents who are not making a concerted enough effort to get their children to eat healthier and exercise more, and although genetics may play a part in obesity, it is only environmental factors which parents are able to alter. Many parents, though, are looking towards the possibilities offered by gastric bypass surgery in order to help their children lose weight, instead of tackling their children’s and their own lifestyles.

Obese parents are more likely to raise obese children, and so genetics is often pointed out as being the main reason behind a child’s obesity. However, the genetic make-up of obese individuals may be different from people of a healthy weight, but they are still able to make decisions about the food they consume and the amount of physical activity they do. Unfortunately, many parents have simply got into bad habits – eating too much junk food and leading very sedentary lives – which they pass on to their children.

Obese parents may be prepared to dismiss the fact that their child is heavier than other children of a similar age, and either put it down to genes or the fact that it is just ‘puppy fat’. It is a different story when children reach puberty, though. Obese children generally turn into obese adolescents, and there is no worse time to be carrying excess weight. Teenagers generally start to take an interest in the opposite sex and their peer group becomes much more important to them: they basically want to fit in.

It can be more difficult to get teenagers to think differently about food and exercise than children because they have a mind of their own, and can be quite contrary, especially if it is their parents telling them what to do. Obese teenagers mostly do not want to put the effort into losing weight and see surgery as a way to solve their problem quickly, paying little attention to the risks involved or the fact that they are going to have to permanently alter their relationship with food. They see the amazing results that gastric bypass surgery has had for other individuals on television and that is all they can think about; they do not think about the pain and discomfort or the dangers of going under the knife.

Their bodies have not stopped growing, and gastric bypass surgery will severely limit the amount of food they can consume, which therefore may impact upon their development. For some teenagers surgery seems to be the only option, particularly when many are becoming even heavier so that they are at risk of diabetes and heart problems at a very young age. However, it is surely the combined responsibility of parents and their children to take action before it reaches such a stage, focusing more on lifestyle changes rather than simply looking towards surgery to solve all their problems.