I was 17 years old, lying on the operating table, writhing in pain as the anesthetic needle pierced the cut skin on the back of my hand. In the year It was 2007, and the obesity epidemic was everywhere, which struck me as an alarming statistic. I was told that unless something was done about my body size, it would eventually lead to serious diseases like heart disease and diabetes. I thought this procedure would save my life.

I was first diagnosed with obesity when I was 8 years old. At age 10, I was on my first diet, eating low-calorie pretzels for lunch while my friends ate Oreos. By age 14, I was going to the pediatrician once a week so she could monitor my weight and teach me about self-control. I had pre-diabetes when I was 16. Two months later my 17Th On my birthday, I had bariatric laparoscopic banding surgery: a retractable, inflatable device was placed around the top of my stomach, which created a small “pouch” and restricted the amount of food I could eat. The procedure is only approved by the Food and Drug Administration for adults, but given the rising obesity rate among children, the FDA wanted to test the surgery in a funded study on teenagers. Adolescents who were “obese” (with a BMI greater than 40) and who had tried other methods to lose weight, such as diet or pharmaceuticals, met the criteria.

The special surgery I got, the gastric band, reached its peak in 2008 35,000 surgeries It was done that year. Because of this, gastric bypass is rarely performed nowadays A large amount of complexity and failure. More invasive and permanent surgeries, such as gastric bypass and gastric sleeve, are commonly used today.

Now, those invasive surgeries are officially recommended for children as young as 13, according to a recent report by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The first edition of the set of instructions To treat childhood obesity. The document recommends that families accept children up to 2 years old Intensive health behavior and lifestyle therapy As a preventative measure against obesity, he recommends medication or surgery for older children who have failed to lose weight through other efforts. This 73-page report urges providers to view obesity as a chronic disease and treat it as such: through aggressive intervention.

On my way to work last week, I listened to a New York Times piece. Daily On the guideMedical reporter Gina Kolata acknowledges that not every child with a high BMI will have health problems, and that insurance often won’t pay for less invasive options like counseling or semaglutides like Wegovy. She defends the possibility of irreversible surgery in this way: “Obese people are discriminated against; Children and adolescents also often suffer greatly. It is a big burden for a child.

For me, weight stigma, along with a lack of attention to my psychological well-being, was a burden. I worry b 1 of 5 children Because I have severe weight loss, they meet the cutoff for heavy weight loss.

I lost weight in the years after my surgery. And I’m so glad. I was finally able to be seen as normal rather than ostracized for my problematic body. But at the age of 23, I started experiencing side effects from the surgery, such as frequent vomiting, heartburn, and inability to eat. After an upper endoscopy, I found out that I had gastritis, esophagus and stomach ulcers, all of which Possible side effects of the lap bandBecause when you have a small stomach and a closed opening, food and acid have a hard time moving through your body in the right direction. That’s when I realized that the surgery that was supposed to cure my obesity problem did a poor job of addressing the complexities of mental health and environmental challenges.

After researching these gastrointestinal health issues, I took matters into my own hands. I wanted to know how this happened and why I was overweight in the first place. In my research on lap-band forums and symptoms (“Why can’t I stop eating?”), I first identified binge eating disorder in Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders In the year In 2013, half a decade after my surgery. of requirement They seem to fit: eating large amounts of food in a short period of time, overeating, eating without being hungry. Growing up, I learned about anorexia and bulimia only briefly. If you didn’t clean up or successfully slim down, it was obvious that it wasn’t a diet problem – you were just fat and you needed a diet.

I started therapy and opened up past wounds that I had tried to ignore. My disordered behavior with food developed as a coping skill to deal with my poor family environment and undiagnosed anxiety disorder, which eventually led to mental illness. But in all my visits to doctors, nutritionists, and nutrition coaches, no one ever asked me what was wrong with my family, my mind, or the culture around me.

After this realization at the age of 23, my behavior towards food changed. But not for good. I became hyperactive, restricting my calorie intake, exercising excessively, and purging several times a day. I didn’t want to be seen as fat anymore. I didn’t want to be an obesity statistic.

My health worsened. I became severely dehydrated and orthostatic and started vomiting blood. I knew I was sick, but at least I was thin.

I lived like this until I knew I couldn’t. I would not have lived. I needed more serious help, so I went to various eating disorder treatment centers to break the cycle and move into recovery.

today, About 45 million Americans Go on a diet every year. The food industry does 71 billion dollars per yearand has its offerings Sad story-In fact, it can limit your food intake. Slow down your metabolism, which can lead to weight gain. Moreover, we have long known about the psychological stress that excessive eating can cause: in 1944 at the University of Minnesota, “Hunger” study, 36 healthy men were put on a low-calorie diet for six months. The results showed surprising physical and psychological effects on the participants: they experienced food anxiety and displayed disordered eating behaviors, such as gulping down water and cutting food into smaller bites to make it last longer. Surprisingly, these psychological effects did not always disappear; After the experiment ended, some participants began to overeat. Even though I come from a stable and middle-class family, I was attached to this stress, which started with my childhood dieting, eating “good” foods during the day and “bad” foods at night. My weight is a symptom of the disability around me.

I wonder if doctors could look past my body and ask me how I feel about food, my body, my family, and my life, if it would prevent me from going through an undiagnosed eating disorder and getting the BMI I deserve. Weight loss surgery.

The practicality of the new guidelines – especially the part of surgery – are not only physical consequences such as side effects, but also psychological consequences. Until recently, my life was defined by my weight, because I was taught from a young age that my weight defined me. As the doctors promised me when I was 17, my previous dieting obsession with weight loss didn’t make me happier or healthier. As an adult, it made me create whole reactions. The band around my stomach loosened, and it no longer affects my daily life. But I worry about children who have permanent bariatric surgery before they really understand their relationship with food and Self respect.

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