*Getting on soapbox*
I was watching Oprah today (it was the last day of my stay-cation so I was doing the daytime tv thing) and I got myself a little bit outraged (okay, a lot). The show today was about obese teens getting lap-band and gastric bypass surgery. We’re talking 14-17 year olds who are still growing, who claimed to be active and had tried every diet under the sun.
The same teens who admitted eating 2 cheese burgers in one sitting.
Now, these kids looked great. I’m not going to deny them that. They were obese to start with, either facing the prospect of diabetes and ill health or actually suffering from the effects already (one girl was already losing her eyesight at 15, directly from being obese) but surgery on a growing body? Come on.
And don’t tell me that they had tried EVERYTHING out there to lose weight – the one guy on the show (Mac) talked about how he would lose weight and then gain it all back. That shows me that he was looking at every diet precisely as a diet and not a lifestyle change. None of these kids had any medical reasons for their weight – no thyroid problems, nothing – only their emotional issues and eating habits.
Now eating habits can be changed. Yes, once you’ve had surgery, you physically can’t eat very much so that automatically changes your habits. If you don’t, you’ll throw up. Nasty. But the emotional side? All those issues that got you there in the first place? Surgery isn’t going to fix that.
And what about the rest of your life? Gastric bypass, which creates a walnut sized stomach and bypasses the rest of the stomach, creates a situation whereby the small stomach can be stretched. Meaning, that patients can, and often do, gain weight back if they don’t see their new life as a lifestyle change.
And what about the long term effects? These surgeries have not been around for long enough to really know what the long term effects are and these kids have a long life ahead of them. 10, 20, 30, 40 years later, what’s going to happen?
But the big thing in my mind – how the hell have we gotten to such a point that 15 year olds need to have surgery to lose weight? We as a society have let down this generation. We dropped the ball. We have an entire generation who sees diet and exercise as something that doesn’t work because it doesn’t work fast enough and they still want the high-fat foods. They see surgery as this quick fix. But it’s not. Nothing is a quick fix. Mac talked about how his mother was now stocking the pantry with low-calorie foods – why wasn’t she doing that in the first place when he was getting to 360 lbs? They all talked about eating less – why weren’t they doing that in the first place? Because it takes too long to see results?
I pity these kids. Sure they look great now, but where is the longterm knowledge about good nutrition and activity to keep them looking good? Where is the education about food as fuel? Where are those good habits that they need to carry them through and to pass onto their kids?
It’s gone. And in its place is a scalpel.
There’s a story in the Daily Mail about how presenter Fern Britton had lap-band surgery to lose weight but told the public that she’d lost the weight through diet and exercise. It’s the same thing that Star Jones did and the public is up in arms.
The difference here is that Star Jones denied the surgery and Fern Britton was never asked and therefore didn’t technically lie, she just didn’t offer the truth. And while lap-band surgery is a way to get started on the weight loss, you do have to incorporate diet and exercise in order to keep the weight off – I’ve read many blogs by people who’ve had the surgery and regained all the weight over a couple of years. So, technically she wasn’t lying.
And yet people feel cheated and discouraged. I think I undertstand the discouragement more than anything. I think by not volunteering that she had surgery, she gave the impression that anyone could achieve the weight loss that she had achieved. And while that completely true in my opinion, as soon as people found out that she had had a little “help”, they no longer focus on the diet and exercise. They focus on the surgery and the fact that they’re just as overweight as Fern was and if she had to resort to surgery, then they would have to. If they don’t have the money for the surgery, oh well, they can’t lose the weight.
And that, my friends, is bull.
I really don’t agree with gastric bypasses, lap-band surgeries or any surgical interention personally but whatever method you choose to jumpstart your weightloss, you still need to pay attention to diet and exercise in order to get healthy and stay there. In 99% of cases, the reason you gained weight was through (bad) diet and (lack of) exercise, so if you continue those trends after you’ve lost your weight, it’s inevitable that you’ll regain.
Fern Britton and Star Jones lost weight through surgery, but you can bet your bottom dollar that they’re keeping it off through diet and exercise.
Unless you disagree?