Surgery is not the solution

On Nov. 9, a new boundary was crossed by surgeons at Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital (LPCH) at Stanford. Bariatric surgery, also known as a gastric bypass, was performed at a children’s hospital for the first time in California, opening a new door for the treatment of overweight young people all over the state.

A gastric bypass is a surgical procedure once limited only to adults. It involves dividing the stomach into two pieces, separating a tiny pouch from the rest of the stomach and connecting it to the small intestines. This pouch, because of its smaller size, tells the brain that the stomach is full after eating a minimal amount of food. The food is then directed through the intestines, bypassing the larger chunk of stomach. But is another surgical procedure problem-solver really what this country needs?

Thirty percent of children between the ages of six and 19 are obese or overweight, and one-half to two-thirds of obese teenagers will continue to be overweight throughout their adulthood. Out of all adolescents, 80 percent of those who have at least one obese parent will suffer from obesity themselves. Out of these kids, a high percentage will develop potentially life-threatening illnesses related to obesity, like type two diabetes. “Why can’t those kids just go exercise and diet,” you may be silently asking yourselves, but obesity isn’t necessarily a problem solvable by the power of will alone.

“I have been through every weight-loss program you can name,” said the patient, who has not given her name. She has suffered from headaches, joint problems, blurred vision and breathing problems, and has a high risk of becoming diabetic. None of the programs she has participated in have given her permanent results, leaving her with surgery as a last resort.

That’s all fine and good for someone who has tried every other approach, but there are those out there who would happily scarf down a cheeseburger rather than go under the knife.

There are those who cannot help their weight problem and there are those who ignore their weight for a tasty treat. How many times in the past month have you or a friend been to a fast-food restaurant? Too many times, that’s how many. Americans are under the impression that faster is better, but their growing bellies should be telling them different, and these food-dealers aren’t helping matters with nifty creations like “dollar menus” and “value meals.”

Is it our fault, then, that we’re obese? Nope. It’s the fault of McDonalds, Taco Bell, KFC, Jack In The Box, Carl’s Jr., and the other fast-food joints who don’t care about your health.

So, what am I trying to say?

If you find yourself stuffing your face with a wad of french fries, don’t fork over thousands of dollars to get that fat removed. Put down the red box with the golden arches and slip on those jogging shoes.