Good habits vs a quick fix

*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.

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One thought on “Good habits vs a quick fix

  1. Actually, most people who have the surgery go in knowing that it is no quick fix. It is a tool to help you live a better life. If you have the bypass, it actually changes the way your body processes food. For some people, that is what it takes to get the weight off. Believe me, I tried it “the old fashioned way” for years and years. Even when I was 100% compliant, it was almost impossible to get it off.

    As far as kids go, it should be reserved for those who truly need it and are mature enough to handle the lifestyle changes. The thing is, to be successful, you still have to be educated and practice good habits. It is only a tool. I’m tired of people saying that it is a quick fix. It certainly is not.

    Fair enough. I suppose I’m wary of offering options that change the body so drastically to kids who are still growing and who haven’t necessarily really tried everything. Kids are very keen to get fast results these days. Often, these kids haven’t been taught the good habits they’ll need to lose the weight and keep it off, regardless of the tools. And they do see it as a quicker solution than the traditional methods.

    Thanks for stopping by – it’s always interesting to hear from people who’ve been there and done it. I’ve only ever lost weight through the old fashioned way so I only have that perspective.

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