Stomach Stapling Kids

Stomach Stapling Kids
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Bariatric weight-loss surgery (like Roux-en-Y gastric bypass) is increasingly performed in children as young as five years old.

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Weight loss surgery for children and adolescents is becoming widespread, performed in children as young as five.

Roux-en-Y gastric bypass is the most common type of procedure, in which they cut out nearly the entire stomach.

Yes, bariatric surgery in pediatric patients results in weight loss, but also has the potential for serious complications, including pulmonary embolism, shock, intestinal obstruction, postoperative bleeding, leaking along the staple line, and severe malnutrition. Complications include death–a mortality rate of 0.5%. That would mean 1 in 200 kids who go under the knife may die.

Infection is identified as the leading cause of death, most often associated with leaking of intestinal contents into the abdominal cavity. Sometimes it doesn’t work, and you have to go in and do another procedure, and if that doesn’t work, we can always try implanting electrodes into their brains, a novel anti-obesity strategy recently reported in the Journal of Neurosurgery. The concept of deep brain stimulation has always been that placing an electrode somewhere in the brain could make people eat less. They just drill two little holes in your skull, snake some electrodes in a few inches, and then tunnel the wires under your scalp into a pulse generator implanted under the skin on your chest. You can’t crank it up past five volts because it induces anxiety and nausea.  But even without the nausea, people with electrodes stuck in their brains lost an average of about ten pounds a year.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Al King via Flickr.

Weight loss surgery for children and adolescents is becoming widespread, performed in children as young as five.

Roux-en-Y gastric bypass is the most common type of procedure, in which they cut out nearly the entire stomach.

Yes, bariatric surgery in pediatric patients results in weight loss, but also has the potential for serious complications, including pulmonary embolism, shock, intestinal obstruction, postoperative bleeding, leaking along the staple line, and severe malnutrition. Complications include death–a mortality rate of 0.5%. That would mean 1 in 200 kids who go under the knife may die.

Infection is identified as the leading cause of death, most often associated with leaking of intestinal contents into the abdominal cavity. Sometimes it doesn’t work, and you have to go in and do another procedure, and if that doesn’t work, we can always try implanting electrodes into their brains, a novel anti-obesity strategy recently reported in the Journal of Neurosurgery. The concept of deep brain stimulation has always been that placing an electrode somewhere in the brain could make people eat less. They just drill two little holes in your skull, snake some electrodes in a few inches, and then tunnel the wires under your scalp into a pulse generator implanted under the skin on your chest. You can’t crank it up past five volts because it induces anxiety and nausea.  But even without the nausea, people with electrodes stuck in their brains lost an average of about ten pounds a year.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Al King via Flickr.

Doctor's Note

The childhood obesity epidemic is so tragic. It pains me to see insult piled on injury. Too often medical treatments can be worse than the disease. See my video Why Prevention is Worth a Ton of Cure.

Speaking of prevention—what might be the best diet for our young ones? See:

There are complications associated with gastric bypass in adults too. See my video The Dangers of Broccoli?

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

42 responses to “Stomach Stapling Kids

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    1. Sounds like a great theme for a horror movie: first they implant electrodes in the brains of the obese. Then someone gets the idea that we can control the criminally insane and rapists by implanting electrode in their brains too. Pretty soon they’re implanting electrodes in everyone considered to be a deviant, then the non-conformists, then for even the slightest psychological problem and is this dystopian saga, a group of ambitious politicians seize power and control the population by sending a signal into the electrodes of people to make sure that they vote for their party. Freewill becomes a thing of the past and everyone lives happily in a stupor of bliss- except for the politicians who are crushed by weight of their responsibility and greed. Eventually the enforcers that they’ve assigned to implant electrodes the populace do their duty and also electronically lobotomizes the politicians.With no one left in charge, Earth becomes a planet of the electronic zombies.




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  1. Truly heartbreaking that we’ve come to these extreme measures, i.e. surgeries and implants, as increasingly common ways to manage childhood obesity. These kids will have to live without stomachs for the rest of their lives and I’m guessing there have been no long-term outcome studies. It seems completely obvious that returning physical education & modern home ec classes and cafeterias to schools would help ameliorate much of the problem.




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  2. Bariatric surgery is grotesque. You can’t solve a psychological/cultural/society problem with surgery. In a 100 years people will look back on this procedure with contempt.




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      1. Well – In several hundred years bloodletting was considered a fine treatment for numerous ailments, but then we got wiser – but I get your point!




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    1. In the absence of parental will to make significant modifications to their children’s diet & caloric intake – and continue to do so longer term (which is unlikely, in that many times the family diet is the issue, rather than the child’s diet per se, as well as a host of other factors, including that when said child is away from home junk food is the primary source (pizza, etc)) – the obese child is at high risk for developing severe health complications. I would submit that – short of societal acceptance that having (severely) obese children is shameful and possibly marking it as child abuse, with appropriate civil and criminal penalties – doctors have a duty to pediatric patients to treat the disease rather than manage the obesity symptoms. Unfortunately, as you probably know, there are only a few medical options, none of which are very good. Pharmacologic interventions to change brain chemistry have not been sufficiently studied in pediatric populations.

      The problem with both of the more drastic solutions above is that brain chemistry is a moving target, particularly in the face of constantly shifting hormonal levels in pediatric populations, and the brain and body quickly adapt to modify leptin and ghrelin levels back to their setpoints, absent manipulation via external sources (whether pharmaceutical, neurostimulatory, or some other methodology).

      However, without establishing legal liability and consequences for parents that allow or enable their children to reach that state




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      1. The parents are the problem. You rarely see an obese child with slim and fit parents. Bariatric surgery is a preventive (and cosmetic) procedure – I personally find the procedure to be unacceptable because of alle the complications and a mortality rate of 0,5%, when there are an alternative that is completely safe: A healthy and mainly plant based diet and exercise




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  3. Barbaric and incomplete/ineffective answer to the SAD problem we have developed. A clear statement that our society is completely baffled by real nutritional needs and the psychological aspects of eating. Pills and Surgeries and Fads, oh MY!

    Wait, WUT? 10# per _year_?! So a morbidly obese person loses 100 pounds in 10 years and is still obese…and the batteries need changing to keep the “cure” working? Hate to be repetitious, but for the record and any new viewers: I lost 20# in 120 days with WFPB and zero aerobic exercise (with cheats and nearly 50 years of age). I was just below clinically “overweight” but am now 2.5 BMI points lighter and quite happy about it, and feeling healthy!




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  4. If you ask a surgeon how to lose weight, he is going to cut you up. Better go somewhere else. Maybe move to a country where there no fat kids.




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    1. When I was a kid, the fat kid was the exception. Now they are the rule. We had fast “food” back then, but maybe didn’t consume so much of it? A “big” soda was a 32oz glass bottle, now 20oz (over half a litre) is standard and you can park a Volvo in a Big Gulp cup.

      Wonder what a chart of “national girth” to fast food industry size would look like. Both keep growing.




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  5. It never ceases to amaze me that people will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on their kids’ educations, the right clothes and shoes, piano lessons, etc. and they continue to feed their children unhealthy foods…what is wrong with us?




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    1. Thankfully people like you are asking the right questions about what’s important in life. Our health is so vital and all parents want to see their kids thrive! It’s unfortunate many folks wait until they become ill before they start changing their diet and lifestyle. That’s why i love NutritionFacts.org because the public can visit the site for free and learn about crucial nutrition topics. If you have not already, please consider keeping up with the new videos posted every weekday, subscribe to the daily video feed or sign up to get emails with each blog update! Thanks, Penny




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        1. had a relative basically gave herself 4 degenerative diseases, over weight,sleep apnea,diabetes,and unknowningly heart stress I recomended mb since I cured myself of cuc,..colitus w/mb in 69..she wouldn’t hear of it..so she flew to san fran ,paid $75,000 to get her stomach stapled..now she’s thin,no apnea,or diab,but still taking in swing of yin and yang meat ,dairy sugar fruit etc so will over time may have heart attack..oshawa,harbringer of macrobiotic in 60’s said”syptomatic med is pallitive, begging and uncertain” to them one has to decrease extremes of yin and yang to the alimentary canal and subsequent physio……………….too laconic for the man in the street though ..they want a quick fix……………go macdonalds get beefed up feel strong, get sugared up feel joy…for a while….




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  6. Not sure if this made me feel more sad or horrified. We live in a really sick world in so many ways…it’s nice to have a place to come where people have awareness and sense and appreciate the true quality of the gift of life! Thanks NF for all you do!




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    1. Vitamin D3 is believed to help some people lose weight. Perhaps the increase in obesity is partially tied to children getting less sunlight. Are vegetarian children thinner? I’m sure they are, and even in passing giving up meat sounds like a more effective intervention then surgery which could kill you (think of all those dead kids!) and brain implants. How does a five year old get 100 pounds over weight? Or is it 250 when they’d recommend surgery? Less meat for overweight kids instead of almost no stomach for the rest of their lives.




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  7. I see a new reality TV show here. Toddlers and Tiaras move over. It’s time for Babies and Bariatrics.
    Honey Boo Boo, say hello to Runny Doo Doo!

    Sick society much?




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  8. A patient whom I have known for about ten years was admitted recently. He used to be a frequent flier but I hadn’t seen him in about a year. To my surprise he had lost about 50 lbs. He’s 55 years old, 5’9″ and about 170 lbs. I said, “Louie, you look good. How did you lose so much weight?” He replied, “I don’t know doc but look at me. I’m skin and bones. Can you order me double portions?” After assuring him that his current weight was healthier than his previous weight and that he was receiving adequate nutrition, I ordered some basic labs, all of which were normal. This apparent unexplained weight loss was puzzling. Then it dawned on me. The reason I hadn’t seen him is because he had just spent the last year in prison. So here is another solution to obesity, strict portion control.




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    1. So, a BMI of about 25 and he feels he’s skin and bones …

      Reminds me of the other day when I was listening to a dubious radio doc* and a caller said something like, “I’m not overweight — 216 pounds, 6 feet tall.”
      I suspect a lot of Americans have a skewed perspective on this.

      *Asa Andrew — for instance, he discourages vegetarian/vegan diets and claims that eggs are great for lowering cholesterol.




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  9. This surgery isn’t for the faint hearted .. you have to make drastic changes in your eating behaviour .. why is it you’ll do that after the surgery but not before, so as to avoid the surgery in the first place ?
    Thanks Dr. Greger .. for informing me and everyone else who will listen to you. I have cut way, way back on my meat eating and keep trying to go wfpb as much as I can.




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  10. It is much easier to read the “Enzyme Factor” and
    the “The Rejuvenation Enzyme” – Dr Hiromi Shinya who by now would
    have performed 400,000+ colonoscopies, who basically recommends an Alkalising
    Diet and Kangen Water and never had a relapse by a client who has followed his
    recommendations. Just like Drugs, Alcohol and Smokes, Sugar hidden in most food
    will kill more people than guns and road accidents. Just a look in most
    household pantry or fridge, ort what’s on their shopping trolley will tell you
    what’s going on in a family’s stomach. How about some grotesque labelling on
    any food that contains sugar to remind buyers that this food will kill them
    with a long slow painful death. Governments legislate speed limits, seat belts
    etc and fine us for not complying, why not do the same with food labelling. I
    would suggest that too many lobby groups would prevent anything sensible like
    this happening and in Australia any way there is no Government with the courage
    to do something like this, although they have done a lot with smoking




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  11. Hello parents! Please feed your kids whole plant foods… Problem corrected.. Oh wait stop! How stupid of me. We live in America where Super-size me has to be regulated because we lack the ability to make good choices. Oh yea now I have been brought back to reality. Sorry about that earlier rant…




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  12. Off topic: Regarding the cancer-fighting effects of high phytate, low methionine diets (plant based). Are there any reasons to believe such a diet does not also fight and shrink benign fatty tumors (lipomas)? Fat tumors are not cancer, but it’s a tumor that is harmless except for its growing size. Are there any studies regarding how they do on plant based diets?




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    1. Hey Douglas. Let’s check. From the plant-based diet section “A plant-based diet may also help in averting and/or slowing certain cancers (like breast cancer, prostate cancer, cervical cancer, colon cancer, as well as BPH, benign prostatic hypertrophy).” This video mentions how a plant-based diet can help lower BPH risk. And here is a video about how fiber and nuts may help reduce risk of proliferative benign breast disease.




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  13. No doubt the unhealthy diet is contributing to this problem, but perhaps the sedentary lifestyle of the modern child is too.
    We used to play outside and walk or cycle everywhere, but then again it was safe to do so unsupervised.




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  14. Forget about the gastric sleeve or the deep brain stimulation electrodes. You can now eat as much as you like and flush it down the toilet mechanically via a PEG tube with the AspireAssist gastric emptying pump. No vomiting required. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eR99zMCConY

    While all of these methods may be effective, they have some unpleasant side effects – particularly the gastric sleeve. What they do not address, however, is the issue of unhealthy food addiction. You can see this coming up as a theme again and again when you look at the videos people post after having weight loss surgery.

    After all if it were not for food addiction, weight loss surgery should result in the loss of 100% of excess weight. It rarely does. The percentage of excess weight lost typically plateaus at about 65% after one year and after five years the weight starts to be regained.

    See: Review of long-term weight loss results after laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24507083




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    1. That is a terrifying study! Particularly the fact that a procedure with such severe risks and side-effects being 50% as effective ] long-term as it should be seems to warrant the conclusion of “The existing data support the role of LSG [laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy] in the treatment of morbid obesity.”

      The explanation for the conclusion may be there, underneath the abstract: “Copyright © 2014 American Society for Bariatric Surgery.”




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  15. I knew a girl who weighted 450lbs and had gastric bypass surgery. She had lost 200lbs, but over the next few years re-stretched out her new tiny stomach and put back on all the weight she lost. So even getting the surgery is no guarantee.




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    1. Band-aids solutions are doomed to fail (yet generate the same fees). If it does work, it’s because causality was addressed.




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  16. Dr G has shown convincing proof that WFPB diet will correct obesity and countless other things. However, it seems that a stomach bypassed makes this diet physically impossible, and a nutritional solution is therefore lost. Talk about painting yourself into a corner! Do people really hate broccoli that much?




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    1. This is Dr Greger’s recommendation. Not 1000 mg per day.
      Vitamin B12 (see also Which type of vitamin B12 is best)
      At least 2,500 mcg (µg) cyanocobalamin once each week, ideally as a chewable, sublingual, or liquid supplement
      or at least 250 mcg daily of supplemental cyanocobalamin (you needn’t worry about taking too much)
      or servings of B12-fortified foods three times a day, each containing at least 25% U.S. “Daily Value” on its label
      Those over 65 years of age should take at least 1,000 mcg (µg) cyanocobalamin every day.
      Tip: If experiencing deficiency symptoms, the best test is a urine MMA level (not serum B12 level




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    2. B12 is super important. Adults needs roughly 2.4 micrograms per day. In supplement form it comes in higher doses, as you point out. Here is a video about finding the cheapest source of B12. Here is more on Dr. Greger’s Optimal Nutrition Recommendations that discuss B12 values. In short, yes, what you describe makes sense and taking 1,000 mcg every other day, or even weekly is fine. It’s always great to double check with your doctor to make sure my suggestion is accurate.




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