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Health Should kids have weight loss surgery? This doctor thinks so

15:05  14 june  2018
15:05  14 june  2018 Source:   honey.nine.com.au

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A doctor has called for weight loss surgery to be performed on kids in a bid to tackle childhood obesity. Dr George Hopkins believes gastric sleeve surgery should be performed on morbidly obese children, but it currently isn't permitted due to hospital restrictions.

Many patients struggle with the decision about whether or not they should elect to have bariatric surgery . Although gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy

Video provided by A Current Affair

An obesity surgeon has called for radical weight loss surgery to be performed on kids, to save them from years of torment and bad health. 

Dr George Hopkins believes gastric sleeve surgery should be performed on morbidly obese children, but it currently isn't permitted due to hospital restrictions. 

"Pre-teens are almost being left out of the conversation because the health system hasn't caught up with this problem yet," Dr Hopkins tells A Current Affair

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“Bariatric surgery should be considered for any severely obese teen who has been unsuccessful in establishing significant weight loss using diet “I have a real problem with a teenager even being offered bariatric surgery as an option unless it truly is a last resort,” said Dr . Charlie Seltzer, a weight

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Currently one in three Australians are deemed obese. Dr Hopkins has performed gastric sleeve surgery on kids as young as 12, but says it's now even younger children and their parents who are crying out for help. 

"I’ve seen eight-year-olds going over 120 kilograms. These kids are sick," he says. 

a woman holding a bird © Provided by Nine Digital Pty Ltd

Ashlee Young tipped the scales at 105 kilos at the age of just 14. 

Her parents made the drastic decision for her to undergo a gastric sleeve operation as Ashlee's health deteriorated. 

Now 18, she's lost more than 50 kilograms and has been able to keep the weight off. 

"It's like having a new life, being a new person," Ashlee says.

Dr Hopkins says his young patients are proof that if you operate early, you can fix the problem early and prevent children getting sicker as they age. 

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Doctors may do weight loss surgery if someone who is very overweight has tried but failed to lose weight and faces serious medical problems. Figuring out if a teen is ready for weight loss surgery is a big decision. It involves a lot of people: patients, families, doctors , dietitians, exercise specialists

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“If you've got a 130 kilogram 15-year-old, all the evidence would suggest that child [or] adolescent will get heavier, will get sicker, will get more miserable, and that's in the very formative years," Dr Hopkins says.

That's what happened to Shannan Rye, who was overweight in high school then ballooned to 160 kilos by her mid-twenties. 

a person standing posing for the camera © Provided by Nine Digital Pty Ltd

"I used to say to myself, 'But I’m not that big, I’m not that big'. And I think that is what I clung to, was, 'Oh, I’m not THAT big'," Shannan tells A Current Affair.  

After undergoing the surgery with Dr Hopkins, she's lost an astonishing 80 kilos. 

Shannan's now able to play hockey again, a sport she hasn't been able to participate in since high school. She's even fallen in love and is now engaged to be married next year.

She says the proof is in her photos, and is now a proud advocate for the surgery, saying eligible kids should be allowed to have the procedure done. 

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Weight loss surgery (also called bariatric surgery ) can help very overweight people who have tried but failed to lose weight and face serious medical problems. But it's not a quick fix. People need to put in a lot of hard work before and after the operation. The three main kinds of surgery for weight loss

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"It helps with a better life, everything changes," she adds.

a couple of people that are standing in a room © Provided by Nine Digital Pty Ltd

Ashlee is a little more cautious in her support.

"I don't think I was too young, but any younger I think would be. Because you gain the weight back and then the next option is a bariatric bypass, and you don't want to have that at 12 and need the next one by 19," she says.

The College of Physicians recently declared obesity as a chronic disease. The Australian Medical Association is yet to follow suit. President Dr Tony Bartone says it's a complex issue that shouldn't always rely on surgery.

"We need to be very cautious when we are looking at teenagers and young children, and we need to understand the evidence and the research before we start promoting that as a widespread solution to the problem," Dr Bartone explains.

Dr Hopkins says he'll keep pushing for hospitals and administrators to come on board, for the sake of desperate parents who have run out of options.

"I just can't believe we can have a very reasonable treatment option that we know works and say, 'Well, that's not for you, based on your age," he says.

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