Skinny Culture on the Skids…Teens Risk More Than Being Overweight Going Under the Knife


North Ryde, NSW -- (SBWIRE) -- 10/02/2012 -- More teens are being coached by parents and physicians into risky bariatric surgeries to lose weight. This raises serious questions on ethics and culture.

In a controversial post the Sydney Morning Herald published an article with the headline “Obese teens urged to consider lap band surgery.” In the article a study was conducted among two groups of 25 teens; one group was assigned to lap band surgery and the other to an individualised diet and exercise programme.

Citing statistics, proponents of lap band surgery noted at the end of the study four teens receiving only individualised diet and exercise were still at risk for weight related problems. In contrast, researchers claim those receiving the surgery were not.

However, only 18 of the 25 teens on the individualised diet and exercise plans completed the two year study. Additionally, patients who received the surgery also received individualised diet and exercise plans.

Not surprisingly the study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, was sponsored by Professor Paul O'Brien who pioneered use of the lap band procedure in Australia, and Allergan, a manufacturer of gastric bands.

Typically bariatric surgery is considered a last resort but is becoming all too common with hundreds of teens throughout Australia going under the knife; not so readily published, however, are failure rates.

According to a study published in PubMed, a division of the US National Library of Medicine - National Institutes of Health:

“With a nearly 40% 5-year failure rate, and a 43% 7-year success rate (EWL >50%), LGB should no longer be considered as the procedure of choice for obesity.”

Furthermore, success with bariatric surgery is largely dependent on making lifestyle changes to include sensible eating, exercise, and nutritional supplements.

According to Annual Reviews a non-profit scientific publisher, Annual Review of Nutrition Vol. 21: 323-341, “Successful long-term weight loss maintainers (average weight loss of 30 kg for an average of 5.5 years) share common behavioural strategies, including eating a diet low in fat, frequent self-monitoring of body weight and food intake, and high levels of regular physical activity.”

Another study published in the International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders 18 (2): 105–9 found, “During 20 weeks of basic military training with no dietary restriction, obese military recruits lost 12.5 kg”.

Despite solid evidence for exercise and nutrition as the most effective tools for weight management, we increasingly live in a “right now” world of quick fixes and instant gratification. Teens are especially sensitive to weight issues. However, they often lack the knowledge, tools, or guidance to make the shift towards maintaining healthy habits.

Many looking to speed weight loss have turned to diet pills. While diet pills are no panacea for weight loss, several studies suggest concentrated herbal extracts can aid weight reduction.

A double blind study published in Physiology and Behavior involving 60 obese subjects found that over 12 weeks subjects taking green tea extract lost an average of 3.3 kilograms over those not taking the tea.

Other substances such as chromium picolinate and cayenne have shown promise in speeding up metabolism and augmenting natural weight loss.

One popular weight loss supplement – Liproxenol – has gained a lot of attention lately in weight loss forums. According to the manufacturer, JW Labs, Liproxenol combines optimal amounts of seven natural compounds to produce a synergistic effect which the company claims multiplies weight lost from diet and exercise up to 27 percent.

Jeffrey Wilson, chief medical advisor at JW Labs said, “The discovery of these compounds is certainly exciting and provides much hope for overweight individuals.”

Like surgery, supplements may not be the answer for everyone but the costs of failing a weight loss program based on diet, exercise and nutritional supplements are much lower than bariatric surgery.

In an investigative report by California newspaper the Fresno Bee, deaths from gastric bypass are one in 200, or nearly twice the rate of other major operations.

According to Jennifer Mann, an eating disorder specialist in Los Angeles, who has treated several clients who have had gastric bypass surgery, said,"Gastric bypass is a permanent prison; in a sense, in a sense you are choosing to make your stomach a different size. And while it is possible to go back, it is very rare and very risky. This is permanent."

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