Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Surgery to combat type II diabetes and obesity?

Last night I watched a report on the news about using gastric bypass surgery to help extremely overweight teens reverse type II diabetes. As I sat there watching the clip, I became disturbed by the entire concept. This is the lazy-man's cure to growing trend in the United States (and across the world for that matter). How are these teens getting so obese? Is this problem behavioral or genetic (I think we know the answer)? Is our society as a whole enabling this unhealthy condition? Aren't these children seeing pediatricians as they grow and develop? Don't they have Physical Education on a regular basis in schools? Are we worried about calling them "fat" or "obese"? Where are the intervention programs to help these kids (walking programs, physical therapy, nutrition and wellness classes, etc.)? What is the cost of the surgery? Isn't intervention a cheaper and safer alternative to a major surgery with possible life-threatening complications?

What troubles me the most is this concept that surgery is the answer to this problem. Has anyone seen the show, "The Biggest Loser?" They assess each participants wellness prior to beginning the exercise the program. Many of the participants have type II diabetes, high blood pressure, and signs of serious heart disease. After being involved in the EXERCISE program for a period of time, they are reevaluated and it is amazing to see how much these results change. Is anyone aware that regular exercise and lowering body fat will have similar results as this procedure. I understand that maintaining a healthy body weight can be a challenge for many individuals. No one said it was easy, it takes discipline, a basic knowledge of nutrition, making smart health choices, plenty of exercise, and time. Simply put, we need give these overweight teens an opportunity to be active in a successful environment that is fun, and allows them to make choices maybe surgery won't be necessary.

As I sit writing this blog, I am wondering if I am doing enough as a Physical Educator to help my students who are overweight. I have done walking programs, had before school and after-school exercise programs from year to year, but can I do more? At this point, I am not sure what the answer is but I will say that I think that society (especially the medical community) needs to take a bit more ownership regarding this obesity "epidemic". Sadly the future cost of our health care insurance is going to reflect this obesity problem and we will ALL have to pay for it!

For more information on the surgery and the study related to the use of gastric bypass with teens, see - http://diabetes.webmd.com/news/20081229/surgery-reverses-type-2-diabetes-in-teens

Chad Triolet
The "Noodle Guy"

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