Thinness by any means necessary! 14 year olds being offered Bariatric Surgery.

I thought I was going to tell you all about my debate-opponent on the Five Live Radio about Karl Lagerfeld weight bullying Adele, who turned out to be a nurse who accosts fat people in the street and tells them to lose weight, but something else has come up, so beloved reader I’ll have to keep you on tenterhooks with that one.

BBC West Midlands radio in Birmingham called to me to comment on a news story that a private weight loss clinic in Edgebaston is offering Bariatric surgery to children as young as 14.

This was not a presenter I had worked with before and I was not as good as I wanted to be, he was great, very warm and handled the subject very sensitively, so I managed to press home the point that a 14 year old is still growing their bones and developing their organs, is in the middle of huge hormonal turmoil, that Bariatric surgery has massive side effects, one of which ~ funnily enough, is starvation, resulting in malnutrition and death. Why ever would anyone want to do that to a child? What could possess a  hippocratic-oath swearing surgeon to make such a decision to lower the age to include children in this barbarous procedure? Could it be the £7,000 price tag ~ never!

This is a very slippery slope, if it is ok to Bariatiricise [look ! I’ve invented a new word ]  children of 14, then how about 12 year olds, 10 year olds and what about 8 or 5 year olds or toddlers?

Children are ours to be loved and nurtured no matter what size they are, to be amongst other things, supported, affirmed and encouraged, cheered on and appreciated for just who they are, to be left alone to go through their changes, to make mistakes, to re-interpret the world, to grow and storm and rail at the unfairness of life, go on wild adventures which may only be climbing to the top of the big slide on their own and to return to us again, triumphant, to share their celebration of progress.   Not ripped open and butchered and set on a life of starvation, a hamster-wheel of medical complications and  body dismorphia and for what? the attainment of some kind of asthetic ideal body size? some kind of hypothetical improvement in the mythical risk-list produced by the Obesity Industry?  Since when has mutilating a teenager been good health practice? Where is the nurturing in that?

And before you snort-and-click over such an idealistic outpouring of parenting-heaven and imagine I must be childless, I am a parent and although my daily routinely frequently includes 10 rounds in the ring with my 12 year old, usually over his personal and immediate environmental hygiene, it is to these ideals I try and drag myself back, albeit kicking and screaming, liberally  supported by chocolate and Hay House Radio[1]  [have you ever listened to that? tune in and you’ll see what I mean]  Some days I am more successful than others, some days I fester and nag,  but even on bad days, at least I know the direction to head in,

But I am going on now, back to surgical mutilation…
The surgeon who runs the clinic, which on a quick google  turned out to be one of the largest in the UK, proclaimed his procedures death-free, what? I mentioned on the programme that there is a death rate of 1%, which he disputed, so afterwards I thought I had better be a little more stat-certain and discovered the actual figure is 2% within 30 days of the procedure [2] that even shocked me. I knew that the majority of patients develop complications, but I assumed it took a while to die from malnutrition, but 30 days? and you know they tell you when they’re dead ~ that it was the body fat that killed them, not the horrific procedure they just carried out. [3]

Want to know the primary effects of reducing the size of the stomach to roughly a medium-sized yoghourt pot?

Here is a quick run down courtesy of Wikipedia [4] ~ leaks at the surgical site (12%), incisional hernia (7%),  infections (6%) pneumonia 4%).  Rapid weight loss causes muscular degeneration, muscle fibres enter the bloodstream and block the kidneys forming kidney stones and gallstones. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies weaken the bones and cause bone disease, affect the thyroid gland and cause hormonal balances, menstruation and sperm production stops. The inability to ingest sufficient fluids leads to over-toxicity and kidney failure. Seizures caused by low blood glucose and excessive insulin production. This is simplistic list and does not include the complications caused by the complications or drug side-effects.

Consider this ~ Bariatric patients cannot take vigorous exercise ~ so no sports, cannot drink more than 4-5 oz of fluid ~ so how do they drink the recommended 1.5 litres a day?  They suffer from ‘gastric dumping syndrome’ [5] bloating and diarrhea after eating ~ fun way to reduce even further any scrap of nutrition they may be ingesting.

Where is the quality of life in this, where is the childhood, the teenage rampage, all the coming of age nonsense we love to hate? Nowhere ~ it is removed along with the better part of the stomach and discarded in favour of ‘thinness by any means necessary’, They are tossing lives away, proclaiming as they go that that holy grail of thinness will buy you longevity [6] ~ what a crock of stomach-staples. I have news ~ thin people do get sick! being thin is not a recipe for good health! Radical I know…

I beg of you beloved readers, if you know the parents of a child or in fact anyone considering Bariatric Surgery ~ stop them, by any means necessary, please, please, stop them.


[1]   [click on ‘listen now’]
[2] Dr David Flum’s studies of 62,000 gastric bypass patients in the mid-2000’s found that 1 in 50 died within 30 days.
[3] A friend of mine died 9 months after Bariatric Surgery in August 2011 and this is what they told us
[4]  [ see ‘Adverse Effects’ about two thirds down this wiki]
[6] More on this myth another time