Bariatric Surgery and Adolescents: Weighing the Risks Against the Benefits

The number of adolescents who are overweight or obese has leveled off in recent years, but unfortunately, the number who are severely obese — heavy enough to qualify for bariatric surgery — nearly doubled from 1999 to 2014. As a result, more doctors and parents are facing an extremely difficult dilemma: Should morbidly obese teenagers have bariatric surgery?

While surgery is the only thing that seems to work for these kids, the idea of weight-loss surgery for teens fills many parents and doctors with trepidation because we must weigh the benefits against the potential problems. Which is worse, risks from surgery or the likelihood of serious health risks from remaining obese?

An estimated three to four million adolescents are heavy enough to meet the criteria for bariatric surgery, but only about 1,000 teenagers per year undergo the surgery. Some medical centers will not perform it on teenagers, and many pediatricians never mention it to their heavy patients.

Obesity carries serious health risks in teenagers — including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, acid reflux, fatty liver and high cholesterol levels — that tend to be eased by surgery. Other health problems associated with obesity in teens include asthma, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and skin fungal infections.

Added to that are social and mental health problems, including isolation and depression. Obesity in teens is associated with significant mental and physical challenges.

According to the Surgeon General, overweight adolescents have a 70% chance of becoming overweight or obese adults. The likelihood increases to 80% if one or both parents are overweight or obese.

In the past, teenagers had two options:

  1. Lose weight by changing diet and exercise habits
  2. Live with current and future consequences of obesity

While the first option is ideal, unfortunately it is not effective for as many as 70% of teens who try it. However, as advances in weight loss surgery for adults have reduced complication and mortality rates, more teens – and their doctors – have begun exploring surgery as a valid option.

If you’d like to learn more about bariatric surgery options and if it might be right for you, contact us for a consultation. Visit https://bit.ly/2GePjXn for contact options and information.

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Health and the Holidays – How to Focus on Fun Not Food

Let’s face the facts here — most holidays are associated with certain foods. Our holiday gatherings usually revolve around an extravagant meal. Christmas at your house might not be the same without your aunt’s creamy corn casserole, but that doesn’t mean food has to be the main focus of the day. Instead, get into the other rituals a holiday brings.

Lead an Activity

We’re not suggesting you forgo or even minimize the importance of the holiday feast or traditional foods, but adding in some physical activity is something that’s good for the whole group. You can be creative, but here are some holiday themed activities to get everyone up and moving:

  • Caroling – who doesn’t love belting out a holiday tune? And what fun it is to hear people laughing outside (2)singing, open your door, and see a group of neighbors reveling in holiday spirit! Basically, this is a walk with plenty of stops for resting for those older or less fit among us.
  • Cut your own tree – Don’t buy a tree from a roadside lot where the trees have been drying out for weeks. Instead, visit a tree farm where you can cut your own. The tree will be fresher and often less expensive than they are at the lot. Also, you will burn calories (and fight some of the blood-sugar effects of the sweets you’ve been sneaking) by tromping around the grounds in search of the perfect tree. *Added bonus: Your family will have one more pleasant holiday memory to look back on of a lovely walk through a pine forest with loved ones.
  • Be inventive – nobody knows your family and friends better than you, right? Maybe a little friendly competition is in order. Perhaps your family enjoys a game of flag football or even musical chairs can get the heart pumping.

The point is — try to add some fun group activities that will get you and others moving.

Be Selective at the Table

Some of the more fattening or unhealthy choices on the table will be common foods that you could eat any time of the year. Opt instead for the holiday specialties if you want to “spend” your calories wisely.

  • Choose baked sweet potatoes over the cream and butter-laden mashed potatoes on the buffet.
  • Pour the gravy and sauces lightly. You may not be able to control what’s being served at a holiday meal, but you can make the turkey, roast beef, and even mashed potatoes and stuffing much healthier by skipping the sauce or gravy or ladling on just a small amount.
  • Indulge in only the most special holiday treats. Skip the store-bought baked goods, but do save some calories in your ‘budget’ to sample treats that are homemade and special to your family, such as your grandma’s special Yule log cake.

Teaching yourself what is worth indulging in and what to skip is much like budgeting your money: Do you want to blow it on mundane things that you can buy anywhere? Or do you want to spend it on a very special, one-of-a-kind souvenir? Don’t completely deprive yourself on festive days – your willpower will eventually be overwhelmed, and you’ll end up overeating.

All of us at VIP Surg wish you and yours a happy and healthy holiday season!

 

 

 

The Role of Genes in Obesity

Genes influence every aspect of human development, physiology, and adaptation, and research shows that genetics also play a role in obesity. However, we still know relatively little when it comes to which specific genes contribute to obesity. Nor do we know the importance of the complex interplay between our genetic makeup and our life experiences.

Obesity Word DNA Strand Medical Research Fat HereditaryWhat we do know is that genes do not always predict one’s future health. Genes and behavior probably are both needed for a person to be overweight. In some cases, various genes may increase one’s susceptibility for obesity and require outside factors such as plentiful food supply or not enough physical activity.

It’s well established that overweight and the different forms of obesity are conditions tending to center within a family. A person with a family history has a two to eight times higher risk than a person with no family history of obesity, and even higher risk is observed in cases of severe obesity.

The most common forms of obesity are probably the result of variations within a large number of genes. Sequence variations within a pool of 56 different genes have been reported as being related to obesity; however, only ten of those genes showed positive results in at least five different studies.

Any attempt to explain the obesity epidemic has to consider both genetics and how (the environment) one lives as well. One explanation that is often cited is that the same genes that helped our ancestors survive occasional famines are now being challenged by environments in which food is plentiful year-round.

As of now, genetic tests are not useful for directing personal diet or physical activity regimens. Studies on genetic variation affecting response to changes in diet and physical activity are still at an early stage. It stands to reason that doing a better job of explaining obesity in terms of genes and environmental factors could help encourage people who are trying to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

Obesity is a serious public health problem because it is associated with some of the leading causes of death in the U.S. and worldwide, including diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and some types of cancer, but unfortunately, families can’t change their genes. They can, however, change the family environment to encourage healthier eating habits and more physical activity. Those changes can improve the health of family members and the family health history of the next generation.

If you live in the Las Vegas area and are interested in weight-loss surgery, schedule a consultation at VIP Surg.

Tips for Enjoying a Healthy Thanksgiving

Let’s be candid, shall we? During any holiday—especially Thanksgiving—people have a lot of food put in front of them. Many times, it is way too much food for even the best of metabolisms to handle without putting on a few pounds. Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could still enjoy the holidays and yet never gain an ounce?

During Thanksgiving, it’s easy to go overboard with the calories and consumption. Temptations of gooey pecan pie and dense sweet potatoes topped with crackly marshmallows make it seem impossible to be disciplined.

However, eating healthfully on Thanksgiving doesn’t mean you have to forgo all your favorite foods. If you’ve got your eating under control for the majority of the time, go ahead and have a piece of pie — just don’t lose control entirely.

Keep your willpower and your wits about you by using these tips:

  1. Stick to healthy portions.

Just one plate of Thanksgiving food is all you get. Fill up half your plate with vegetables,fruit, and a whole wheat roll, a quarter of it with mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes, and a quarter of it with turkey or ham. The more colorful your plate, the better – so get lots of leafy greens, carrots, bell peppers, and beets in your veggie selection. If you fill up on those lower caloric density and higher nutrition things, you’re going to feel full, but not bloated and tired, because it’s a lighter far.

It’s a holiday, so indulge a bit if your diet allows it. If you’re going to eat dessert, make sure you allot for the calories elsewhere – don’t go back for that second helping of marshmallow sweet potatoes, and instead opt for the cranberry salad.

  1. Eat before you indulge.

Don’t starve yourself during the early part of Thanksgiving Day, with the idea that you’re just “saving room” for all the food, or that this will make it okay for you to overeat later.

If you’re going to a Thanksgiving lunch, be sure you eat breakfast before. If you’re going to a dinner, be sure you eat lunch or have a snack in the afternoon. You should have your normal meals because whenever we get over-hungry, we tend to overeat.

  1. Substitute healthy ingredients for unhealthy ones.

There are plenty of ways to make Thanksgiving fare healthier. For mashed potatoes, consider mixing in chicken broth, herbs, or roasted garlic to perk up the flavor instead of adding in butter. For green bean casserole, swap out fried onions with toasted almonds for a less-oily alternative, and instead of having cranberry sauce, opt instead to make a cranberry salad. For dips, use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream — the consistency is similar, but yogurt has less fat and more protein.

  1. Drink lots of water and take a walk after eating.

Many times, when people think they are hungry, they are really just thirsty. By drinking lots of water throughout the day, you’ll lower the risk of overeating. Keep in mind that alcohol not only has lots of calories, but it’s effects can also lower your willpower for keeping to your healthy lifestyle.

It’s also a good idea to take a walk after eating to get your metabolism going instead of laying on the couch. Ultimately, you’ll sleep much better that night if you do a little exercise after eating rather that falling into a food coma.

All of us at VIP Surg wish you and yours a happy, healthy, and safe Thanksgiving! We are here to help with your bariatric and general surgery needs.

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