The American Academy of pediatrics is now recommending bariatric surgery for children (see Medscape). What this amounts to is the medical establishment giving up on helping obese children lose weight through diet and exercise.
Instead they are focusing on surgery as the only viable treatment for a terrible disease. Bariatric surgery is when the stomach is partially removed and connected to the intestine.
Without question, there is a health crisis facing children today.
"We see an ongoing epidemic of obesity. There are currently 12 million US children with obesity, but there is also this 'epidemic within an epidemic' of 4.5 million with severe or very severe obesity," lead author Sarah C. Armstrong, MD, professor of pediatrics, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, told Medscape Medical News.
Roughly 10 percent of children 12 to 15 years old are severely obese in the US. That's double the figure of 20 years ago. These children are likely to have high blood pressure, sleep apnea and many are diabetic or prediabetic.
Doctors are defensive about their decision to promote surgery for kids. They say that surgery is not intended to be the first line of defense for obesity.
"... we have found that children with severe obesity are very unlikely to reverse their obesity by adulthood through traditional behavioral and lifestyle changes," Armstrong explained.
Obviously, if surgery is the only way of losing weight and avoiding the diseases associated with obesity, then surgery is an option. But there are risks involved; here is what Nationwide Children's website says about the complications:
Bariatric surgery is major surgery. With gastric bypass, for example, one in every five patients has some type of complication after surgery. Complications may include drainage at the surgical site, difficulty swallowing, wound infection, bleeding, pneumonia, abscess, gastric leak, ulcer, hernia, and rarely, even death. Slippage of the band is a possible complication of laparoscopic adjustable band surgery. One life-threatening medical problem for any surgery is called deep vein thrombosis. This is a blood clot in the leg that can travel through the veins, up to the lungs (called a pulmonary embolus), and may cause death.
Have these doctors considered a different kind of radical intervention?
How about a very low carb diet and intermittent fasting? Instead of eating candy and soda children should eat meat and low carb vegetables. Instead of eating 3 meals and 3 snacks per day children could try eating two meals per day.
Doctors have been brought up with a wrong paradigm of what the problem is - and this leads to an incorrect solution. Doctors blame a "toxic" environment where too much fast food and too little exercise is causing children to become obese. This is the calories in vs calories out model of what causes obesity.
With this vague understanding of the problem doctors can't teach parents how to change their children's eating habits. The problem is not "portion control" the problem is a diet based on refined carbohydrates. This becomes clear when we see the rise of type 2 diabetes among children. Diabetes is caused by a disruption of hormones, especially insulin. Exercise is important mainly in the context of how exercise influences hormones such as insulin. For example, intermittent fasting works well with exercise by bringing insulin levels down. Schools and parents need to understand that snacking on carbs leads to constantly high levels of insulin and this leads to obesity.
More importantly, doctors need to break with a mindset that blames the victims and views the problem of childhood obesity as a lost cause. There are solutions, but they require a deeper look at the science that studies obesity and human nutrition. With this science we can avoid unnecessary suffering and surgery.