Teenagers and lap band surgery

Most scientific research only happens to keep the researchers in a job. A lot of medical research is meant to keep the system going, so that all doctors can stay in a job. And then there are studies that are just meant to create more profitable jobs for surgeons. Like the study that shows how good it is for obese teenagers to get lap band surgery.

“has significant benefits for severely obese teenagers.” That is interesting, considering that lap band surgery on adults has rarely a positive outcome. This is immediately a huge red flag that what follows is fantasy. “body mass index (BMI) improved in the months and years after the surgery.” Body mass index is a largely useless way of measuring obesity in adults and for teenagers this is even worse. BMI is calculated using height and weight. So if a teenager grows 10cm the BMI will significantly go down, even if the weight has increased. That will also happen without surgery.4902876-3x2-940x627

“It’s a life-long commitment when you have obesity,”Commitment? Doctors always make lap band surgery sound like you won’t need to do anything anymore. This surgery is nothing else than an invasive way to apply a low calorie diet. The only difference is that you can’t cheat. But you are just as hungry and just as miserable and you will have the same problems getting enough nutrition. Low calorie diets don’t work and that’s why lap band surgery is such a huge disappointment.

“weighing anywhere from 98 to 185 kilograms” That’s pretty heavy. Has anyone first investigated what the cause of the extra weight is? Theoretically it’s possible to eat yourself an extra 10o+ kilograms of fat before you get 18, but it’s not likely. Even with large amounts of sugar and other junk that’s difficult. After all, there are loads of kids that grow up on junk food and they don’t gain that much weight. If diet is not the cause of the problem, then a low calorie diet won’t help solving it.

“results were encouraging, with some teens able to lose up to 20 kilograms.” Huh? You do very invasive surgery on a kid and *some* of them lost *up to 20 kg*. That means that many of them didn’t lose any weight and others only lost a few kg. That’s exactly what lap band surgery does to adults. Even the most successful case only lost 20kg, which is not much when you might need to lose more than 100kg.

And there is another problem. The study stops after a few years, though it’s known that most people who manage to lose weight after lap band surgery gain it again, usually starting after about three years. obesity-fact-check-dataThey keep eating little and still gain weight. The mechanism for this is complicated and many different things play a role. Very few people keep the weight off permanently and that likely won’t be any different for teenagers.

“Seven of the 21 teens in the study had the lap band removed after a year or two, because it did not work.” I suppose that means that these kids didn’t lose any weight at all. And the researchers let them suffer for two years before they realised that? That’s not just unethical, it also shows that the researchers have no idea what they are doing. If it doesn’t work within a few months, it will never work. Everyone who has tried low calorie diets knows that.

“Dr Pena said this shows why lap banding should be considered over permanent surgeries.” Dr. Pena, do you hear yourself? The invasive procedure didn’t work and you say that is the reason why people should consider it? O wait, you say that this useless procedure is better than other useless procedures, because at least this one can be undone with new surgery. That’s also a way of producing a study. “This surgery is better than that one, because this one is less dangerous.” No surgery is a lot safer.

“there is a concern in the long term what will happen because there is no data available,” Liar. There is plenty of data available about the lack of long-term results of lap band surgery in adults. Try to explain to me why it would be any better in teenagers. “But we know that it’s very cost effective, this study shows that the patients involved have lost weight,” Explain “cost effective”. Losing a few kg of weight can be achieved in other ways than invasive surgery. Cutting out junk food can make a person lose 10kg of fat, without being hungry. That’s not only safer, but it doesn’t cost one dollar. That makes a healthy diet for an obese person extremely cost effective. And a healthy diet is also more likely to keep the fat away, which usually doesn’t happen after the surgery. That makes the surgery very cost-ineffective.

“She said obesity in Australian women was increasing faster than anywhere in the world,” obesity-man-340x180-dataMs. Martin, have you funded a study to find out why this is? I will give you a tip: Australian doctors prescribe antibiotics for everything and anything, from a cough to a sore finger. They give these drugs to  young babies, toddlers and little kids. Are you really surprised that the children gain weight? (Another tip: farmers have used antibiotics for a long time on their healthy animals, to make them gain weight quicker. Why do you think this works any different in humans?) This doesn’t just apply to women, but also to men. Women are just more the focus of the weight loss industry.

As long as the focus of obesity prevention and treatment is only on food, nothing will change. There are a gazillion weight loss diets available. Some make some sense, others are completely absurd. And when you try enough of these diets you are likely to lose weight, for a while. But in most cases the weight comes back after a few years, even if you stick with your diet or exercise plan. The reason is that in most cases overweight is not just caused by diet. Environmental pollution is a big reason, as are antibiotics as I described above. Many pharmaceuticals cause weight gain, as does the fluoride in our water supply.

The question is not why so many Australians are overweight. The question is why some Australians have a healthy weight. But there is no money in finding the real cause of the problem. On the contrary, that would cost a lot of money. And that’s why nobody is interested in that. You don’t get funding for undesired research.

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