Surgery for obese children: necessary or aggressive?
Do children over 13 need surgery if they are overweight? Some doctors think it’s too aggressive, while others see the need for such drastic measures. Pediatric endocrinologist and special appointment professor of youth, nutrition and health Edgar van Mil shares his considerations in this column.
“In my work as a pediatric endocrinologist, I deal with children suffering from severe obesity and its consequences. It is therefore important to take the subject of childhood obesity seriously and to seek lasting solutions. The new directive from the American Academy of Pediatrics to operate on children from the age of 13 if they are overweight has caused a stir in the Netherlands.
Because why would people act so aggressively and operate on children? The answer is simple: Americans take childhood obesity very seriously. They know very well that this large group of obese children will cost billions in health care costs. Being overweight at a young age means a high risk of chronic diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and problems with the musculoskeletal system. Here in the Netherlands, we know that it is not only about the subsequent costs, but also about the suffering of the children at the moment. Children are indeed overweight because they do not follow sports and games, are bullied and have low self-esteem.
In the Center of Expertise for a Healthy Lifestyle for Children at the Jeroen Bosch Hospital, we see severely obese children from all over the country. With children and parents, we try to understand the factors that cause and maintain overweight. This results in a treatment and orientation advice that we work out together. And if we’ve learned one thing, it’s that obesity is a very complex and difficult disease to treat. Parents often need help from a variety of angles to sustain the needed behavior change and be successful. Unlike in the United States, operating on children from the age of 13 is rarely necessary in the Netherlands”.
Would you like to know more about the center of expertise for a healthy lifestyle? Then view the website.
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