As I lay on the operating table, I was 17 and winced in pain as the anesthetic needle pierced the taut skin on the back of my hand. It was 2007, and the obesity epidemic was everywhere, showing dangerous statistics. I was told that my size would lead to serious illnesses like heart disease and diabetes if I didn’t do something about it.
I was first diagnosed with obesity when I was eight years old. By age 10, I was on my first diet, eating low-calorie pretzels for lunch while my friend ate Oreos, and by age 14, I was visiting his pediatrician once a week. , recorded my weight and taught me about self-control. By age 16, I had pre-diabetes. 17 years to 2 monthsth On my birthday, I had a bariatric laparoscopic bandaging surgery. A reversible, inflatable device was placed in the upper stomach to create a smaller “pouch” to limit the amount of food that could be consumed. This procedure was approved by the Food and Drug Administration for adults only. But given the rising rates of childhood obesity, the FDA wanted to test this surgery on adolescents in a study funded by the FDA. Adolescents who tried other means to lose weight, such as diet and medication, met the criteria.
The specific surgery I had, a gastric wrap, peaked in 2008. 35,000 surgeries performed that year. The gastric band is now rarely played. High rate of complications and failureToday, more invasive and permanent surgeries such as gastric bypasses and gastric sleeves are more commonly used.
These invasive surgeries are now officially recommended for children as young as 13 by the recently published American Academy of Pediatrics. First edition of a set of guidelines For the treatment of childhood obesity. This document is recommended for families with children as young as 2 years old. Intensive Health Behavior and Lifestyle Treatment As a preventative measure against possible obesity, it recommends medication and surgery for older children who have failed to lose weight through other efforts. , urging health care professionals to treat it as such. Proactive intervention is required.
Last week, while driving to work, I heard an episode from The New York Times. daily to the guidelinesMedical reporter Gina Kolata says not all children with high BMIs have health problems, and moreover, insurance doesn’t pay for counseling and less invasive options like Wegovy’s semaglutide. I admit that there are many. She defends the possibility of irreversible surgery as follows. “It’s a heavy burden on children.”
For me, the weight stigma and lack of attention to my own psychological well-being was a burden.I am worried 1 in 5 children Those who meet the cutoff for active weight therapy because of what active weight therapy has done to me.
For several years after surgery, I lost weight. And I was thrilled. I was finally seen as normal rather than a problem body outcast. The side effects of the surgery were starting to appear. An upper endoscopy revealed that I had gastritis, esophagitis, and gastroesophageal reflux disease. Potential Side Effects of Lap BandsIt was then that the surgery that was supposed to cure my obesity problem turned into a mental health problem. I realized that I was doing a poor job of addressing the underlying problems of the tangle of health and environmental issues.
After being diagnosed with these gastrointestinal health issues, I took matters into my own hands. I wanted to know how this happened and why I was diagnosed with obesity in the first place. and a symptom google search (“Why can’t I stop eating?”), I discovered a diagnosis of bulimia. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 2013, half a year after the operation.of standard It seems to fit: Eating large amounts of food in a short period of time, eating past the point of fullness, eating when not hungry. It was clear that if you didn’t shed or lose weight with restrictions, it wasn’t an eating disorder.
I started therapy and opened the past wounds I tried to ignore. My disordered behavior with food developed as a coping skill to deal with a dysfunctional family environment and an undiagnosed anxiety disorder that eventually progressed to mental illness. No one asked me what was wrong with my family, my heart, or the culture around me each time I visited.
After realizing this at age 23, my food behavior changed. I became very cautious, limiting my calorie intake, exercising too much, and pooping multiple times a day. I didn’t want to be the obesity stat.
My health deteriorated. I became severely dehydrated and orthostatic and started vomiting blood. I knew I was sick, but at least I was skinny.
I lived like this until I realized I couldn’t do it anymore. I won’t survive I needed more serious help, so I went to various eating disorder treatment centers to stop the cycle and go into recovery.
today, about 45 million Americans diet every year.made by the diet industry $71 billion annuallyand its products include disastrous track record— In fact, restricting food intake slow down metabolism, which can lead to weight gain. Moreover, it has long been known that intense dieting can cause psychological distress. In 1944 at the University of Minnesota “hungerThe study involved 36 healthy men on a low-calorie restricted diet for 6 months. As a result, participants saw noticeable physical and psychological effects. They experienced food obsession and exhibited disordered eating behaviors, such as gulping water to feel full and chopping food into small pieces to make food last longer. Surprisingly, these psychological effects do not always go away. After the experiment was over, some participants found themselves binge eating. I was born into a stable middle-class family, but as a child I was involved in this affliction that began with dieting, eating “good” food during the day and devouring “bad” food at night. was doing. My weight was a symptom of dysfunction around me.
If a doctor has ever looked at my body and asked how I feel about food, my body, my family, and my life, experienced an undiagnosed eating disorder, or had a BMI I’m afraid I didn’t qualify for it.For weight loss surgery.
My fear of implementing the new guidelines, especially the surgical portion of it, is not only the physical effects, like side effects, but also the psychological effects.Until recently, my life was defined by my weight. The obsession with weight loss that started didn’t make me happier and healthier than my doctor promised me at 17. The band around the stomach is loose and does not interfere with daily life. But before I really understand my relationship with food, I worry about my children who will have permanent bariatric surgery. Self esteem.