Weight-Loss Surgery (Bariatric Surgery) Program
Childhood Obesity: Frequently Asked Questions
How do you know if your child is overweight or obese?
How can you help to keep your child at a healthy weight?
Keeping a child's weight in the healthy range is a matter of balance between the number of calories consumed and the number of calories used. If a child eats more than he/she uses, the result is weight gain. From an early age, children can learn to like or dislike certain foods based on what is normally eaten in the house. You can get a 2-year-old child to like fruits and vegetables, but if a child has reached adolescence, it will be difficult to get him/her interested in fruits and vegetables for the first time. The balance between diet and physical activity is important in maintaining a healthy weight. Some helpful advice for a healthier lifestyle would be:
- Include vegetables and fruits in every meal
- Include variety in food types consumed
- Avoid sugar-containing beverages as much as possible
- Have meals as a family
- Look at the labels and nutritional information
- Have home-made meals instead of refined and fast foods when possible
- Substitute sugar-filled and fat-filled snacks with fruit snacks
- Have your child's pediatrician involved in healthy weight monitoring
- Include the entire family in healthy lifestyle behavior
- At least 30 minutes of daily physical activity
What causes a child to reach an unhealthy weight?
While some children gain weight because of medical reasons such as an under-active thyroid gland or other diseases, the majority of children start gaining weight because they take in more calories than their body uses. This is often a result of genetic, behavioral and environmental factors.
How many American children are affected by obesity?
According to the CDC, f
What are the factors that cause a child to be overweight or obese?
We are learning more and more about the role that genetics plays in a child’s weight. In fact, the biggest predictor of having a child with weight issues is when parents also have weight issues. Diabetes during pregnancy and large weight gain during pregnancy can even modify the developing child’s genes, making it even more difficult for the child to manage their weight later in life.
Behaviors are thought to be an important part of the development of obesity. Eating behaviors such as large portion sizes, unhealthy food types, eating meals away from home and drinking sugar-rich beverages are some of the contributors to gaining weight. Physical activity, or lack of it, is an important factor in determining how many calories are spent or stored in the body as fat. Children are just not as active as they used to be. Video games, televisions, computers and mobile devices have replaced outdoor play and group sports. This is an important contributor to childhood obesity. Social norms also contribute to this problem. If your child eats the same way as his/her friends and has a similar body type, you may not think of him/her as suffering from overweight or obesity. Making an effort to change the family's eating behavior and monitoring your child's eating behavior are important changes in helping your child's weight.
Children are greatly influenced by their environment and by other children. What children do at school, in daycare, in afterschool programs and in the community affects what they eat and their physical activity level. Children spend long hours away from home and are learning some of their behaviors outside of the home.
Questions About Weight-Loss Surgery
How long do I have to stay in the hospital for this procedure?
Hospital stay is generally one to two nights for the sleeve gastrectomy. Each patient is different and requires personalized care to best meet his or her individual needs.
How safe is bariatric surgery?
The sleeve gastrectomy is the best option for children and adolescents in our opinion as it has about a one percent complication rate as opposed to a 10% complication rate for gastric bypass.
What are the patient criteria for bariatric surgery?
What is bariatric surgery?
Bariatric surgery involves reducing caloric intake by modifying the structure of the gastrointestinal (digestive) tract. The major procedures for weight loss performed in children and adults, include:
- Sleeve gastrectomy, a procedure that restricts food intake without using a device or re-routing the intestines. It has become the most common procedures for adults seeking bariatric surgery (~70 percent) and is even more commonly performed for children and adolescents (>95 percent)
- Gastric bypass, which involves making a small pouch out of the stomach and re-routing the intestines to maximize weight loss. It used to be the most popular option for adults, but now only comprises about 20 percent of bariatric procedures in the United States.
What is life like before and after bariatric surgery?
Life is drastically different after bariatric surgery, and eating changes are necessary for all patients. Consultations with Children's psychologists and nutritionists will help patients make the necessary changes.
Where can I go for counseling support in my community?
Children's National has a team of child and adolescent psychologists and medical specialists to help patients find ongoing counseling resources as well as mentoring and family support.
Who qualifies for the bariatric surgery program?
Children and adolescents who wish to undergo bariatric surgery must meet a specific set of guidelines involving body mass index (BMI) and obesity history.
Will my insurance cover this operation?
Insurance coverage varies by the individual plan. The best advice is to contact your individual insurance carrier to see what is covered and what criteria are required.