Obesity takes hold in childhood

This recent article in the New York Times brought to light that children who reach kindergarten age with obesity have a higher likelihood of suffering from obesity as adults. The different studies quoted in this article followed children in different parts of the United States.

I am happy to see that we are starting to pay attention again to the importance of obesity and to its importance in our children. Obesity is a medical condition that has dire consequences. And because of obesity showing up earlier in our lives, the medical conditions that accompany obesity like high blood pressure, diabetes, sleep apnea and acid reflux show up earlier in life, too.

The problem I have with this article and the scientific studies is that they make general statements that have no science to them. They speak again of genetics and environment. Really? They say obesity is genetic. As a doctor, I have yet to see an obese baby born. It can happen to mothers who suffer severe untreated diabetes during pregnancy, but otherwise, children are not born obese.

“The environment is responsible for obesity”. Funny, I don’t see a child of normal weight walk in to a room and then walk out obese. I am starting to be a smarty pants here, but it is because I am frustrated that my colleagues refuse to accept obesity as a treatable medical condition. They want to continue to push the failed notions and treatments of genetics and changing environment.

Obesity in children of kindergarten age and in our teenagers is a major problem. Once a child/teenager enters in to the obese stage, trying to treat them with diet plans is viewed by the child as a punishment. This makes any diet treatment plan tough to keep up.

Preventing obesity in children or teenagers is a wonderful idea. It requires awareness on part of the parents AND it requires courage on the part of the doctors to recognize that obesity is a problem.

I would like to see a change in culture that recognizes that when obesity becomes a problem for a child or teenager there is a successful treatment for it.

As you have read on my website and my blogs, obesity surgery for teenagers is safe and it works!

I have a 15 year old patient who is 9 months out of surgery and she has lost 130 pounds.

When I met her she was a quiet wallflower who would not look me in the eyes, her parents did all the talking. 9 months later her parents could not get a word in, she is confident and focused. Her parents say she is participating in all her school activities.

As always my message is that we need to focus on our health. Treating obesity makes us healthy.