For Brenndon Goodman and Emma Wasylenko, who have been suffering from hefty cases of obesity all their lives, surgery has been a quick cure to their health problems. One year after having surgery, Brendon lost 100 pounds, down from 375, and Emma lost 50 pounds, down from 266. While both of them have seen massive improvements with their health and active lifestyles, doctors from Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children caution that surgery is only the first step. Exercising and maintaining a proper diet are also important, and the surgery should not be looked at as a replacement instead of these other things.
The surgery that was performed was part of a program called SickKids Team Obesity Management Program, or STOMP, which has had the noble goal of helping teenagers overcome their obesity. In Emma’s case, her weight was a result of having a tumor removed from her brain as a child, which affected both her metabolism and her appetite. For Brenndon, obesity had been a problem his entire life. He remembers weighing 150 pounds at age eight and over 200 pounds by the time he was 10. According to a recent report from Healthline and data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), childhood obesity increases the likelihood that someone will be overweight when they become older. In fact, kindergartners who were overweight had four times the increased chance of staying overweight by the time they reached 8th grade.
For those enrolled in STOMP, having the weight-loss surgery does not come with a lack of risks. Toronto doctors have been very open with stating that they try to only select patients to operate on where the risks of remaining obese “outweigh” those of having the surgery performed. Before patients go through with this, they must remain on a very strict diet, only eating specific foods so doctors can see the patient’s stomach clearly when they operate. Besides the benefits of weight loss, the surgery also has increased their health in general and allowed them to be far more active while feeling less exhausted when they exercise.
These Canadian teens aren’t the only ones who have recently undergone weight-loss surgery. Gary Weiss, an American citizen, also had similar surgery done and has discussed the costs of doing so in a country where medical expenses aren’t covered by the government. Like Brenndon, Gary also lost 100 pounds and concludes that while weight-loss surgery can save a large sum of money in the long-run, in the short-run it can be a very heavy expense. Dr. Vivek Prachand, director of the Center for Surgical Treatment of Obesity at the University of Chicago Medical Center says that for anyone with a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 35 or above, can expect to spend between $3,000 to $10,000 annually. For Weiss, whose surgery which was performed in New York City, his bill came to a massive total of $67,000 although insurance discounted $22,000 worth.
While weight loss surgery may be seen as an appealing quick fix type of cure, there are plenty of other ways to lose weight and certainly much cheaper ones for anyone who lives inside the U.S. Drinking a half gallon of water each day and cutting down on solid food can help a person lose water weight in a week. Reaching for fruits and vegetables as a snack instead of chips and candy is a great way to reduce calories. Taking a daily multivitamin is a simple way to see improvements and donating over-sized clothes can help someone stay motivated. Spicy foods also help to increase the heart rate and metabolism, especially when eaten with no preservatives. And of course, nothing is a better cure for obesity than trying to be conscious of doing some daily exercise.
By Jonathan Holowka