Thursday, December 27, 2007

Norfolk Clinic Offers WLS for Children

A University hospital in Norfolk, UK is submitting plans to health officials to carry out Weight Loss Surgery on children who cannot lose weight by other methods.

Story from the Norwich Evening News

"the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital is to submit a plan to county health chiefs to carry out surgery on the most severe cases, although only involving children."

But wait, didn't the National Institute for Clinical Excellence in the UK say that WLS surgery for children was not recommended? Of course. But, as we know,

"“We are putting the case forward because of a rise in childhood obesity and illnesses associated with it."

It's for the good of the children, right? Talk about buzzword bingo. Honestly, what all this adds up to? Cha-ching. Children are the last untapped market for a world already saturated with diet fads and drive-through bariatric clinics.

"Hey Maureen, want to get some lunch?"
"No thanks, Claire, I think I'll head downtown and get my stomach stapled this afternoon. After all, I have to look like a perfect sex toy for my husband or else Dan Savage will tell him to leave me."

On this side of the pond, doctors are also considering an increase in childhood weight loss surgery, despite an increased complication rate and death rate of 1 in 50.

From the Washington Post:

"A group of four hospitals, led by Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, are starting a large-scale study this spring examining how children respond to various types of weight-loss surgery, including the gastric bypass, in which a pouch is stapled off from the rest of the stomach and connected to the small intestine."

That article tries very hard to make it clear that the WLS is an absolute last resort. Their definition of a last resort?

"Children are only considered candidates for surgery after they have spent six months trying to lose weight through conventional methods under hospital supervision."

Really. Six whole months? Well fiddle-de-dee, if we can't make those kids slim in a few lousy months then it's under the knife for them! Talk about the art of medicine by Sweeny Todd.

Now, to be fair, the Post does go into some of the grisly details:

"The federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality released a study in July that said four in 10 weight-loss surgery patients develop complications within six months. Among adults, mortality rates among gastric bypass patients remain at between 1 in 100 and 1 in 200 patients."


"Of the patients who participated in the NYU study, two needed a second operation to adjust a slipping band; two developed hernias; five got an infection; five suffered mild hair loss and four had iron deficiencies related to their new diet. After the study was complete, one patient asked to have her band removed because of discomfort, said Evan Nadler, a pediatric surgeon and co-author of the study."

Hmm...that sounds pretty bad, doesn't it Doc? Well yes, concerned parent, it certainly is, but isn't it worth it? After all, if your child doesn't have the surgery, they're at risk of becoming...dare I say it?

A fat adult!

*gasp, cue scary organ music* (pun intended)


fatfu said...

Positively grotesque. Why not try a frontal lobotomy while they're at it? God knows it's a safer, more targeted therapy than ripping apart the digestive system. Especially when you know there is a second brain in the gut comprising 100 million neurons. This isn't just rearranging pipes - this also a radical neurosurgery and a radical endocrine surgery. In 50 or 100 years (God, I hope sooner), this will be seen as yet another example of medical barbarism.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the outrage will come 20 years from now when these children start having major health problems. I think it's really sad when we, as a nation, become so greedy that we begin to turn children into guinea pigs.