Obesity in Children – Is Bariatric Surgery Safe for Kids?
Obesity in children is the new epidemic. The reasons are many and the solutions are very few.
Changing society, lack of importance on physical activity, excess indulgence in video games, social media are major culprits that are making kids very sedentary.
With the availability of wide variety of junk food, highly processed food with lots of carbohydrates and increased consumption of soft and liquid calories (ice-creams, shakes etc) and alcohol usage, overweight and obesity have become very prevalent in younger age groups.
Almost 16% of students in many international schools and schools that have very time-intense educational programs are being noted as overweight or obese.
Some unfortunate schools even lack playgrounds and are unable to provide basic physical education and activity to their students.
Not every overweight child requires intervention. In majority of children, if we can make sure they don’t gain any further weight; as they advance in age and grow taller, the excess weight will get adjusted.
In those children, where they are already morbidly obese, one may need to consider certain procedures to reduce the excess weight. These procedures are safer than routinely performed gallbladder surgery.
Most popular among those procedures is an ‘Intra-gastric balloon’.
This is a simple, reversible procedure performed with an endoscope (camera through the mouth) that does not alter internal anatomy. The procedure will be completed in 15 minutes and the patient can go home in 1 hour after the procedure. Major anesthesia is not required in this procedure.
The others in whom this method is preferred are young ladies who prefer not to have surgical scars, people who wish to lose around 15 to 20 kgs, older patients who are at higher risk for anesthesia, models, movie stars, etc.
In parents who already are suffering from Type 2 Diabetes, we notice a higher preference in longer term procedures like ‘Gastric Sleeve’ for their children.
Since they are already suffering from Diabetes, they are opting for this procedure which can not only control the excess weight but also, reduces the risk of Type 2 Diabetes, Hypertension, dyslipidemia, heart disease, stroke, certain cancers and many other conditions in the kid’s future.
The important fact to note is that the child born to an obese mom has a very high incidence of obesity and Type 2 Diabetes in their life. So, for prospective moms, it is important to lose weight before you plan to extend your family.
Encourage sports and physical activity. Have children engage in more interpersonal and group activities as opposed to living in the digital/virtual world. Instill the values of yesteryears, family bonds, respect and culture in children, so that, they will grow into responsible and respectable individuals.
Let’s take steps together to control this epidemic called ‘Childhood Obesity’.