Dr. Manny: Doing weight-loss surgery on a 2-year-old is shocking

I recently read of a report from the International Journal of Case Surgery Reports which describes how a morbidly obese 2-year-old, who weighed 73 pounds, underwent permanent bariatric surgery in order to shrink his stomach and lose weight. Indeed, within two months, the boy had lost 15 percent of his body weight and subsequently went from 73 pounds to 53 pounds.

This news shocks me for several reasons. According to the report, doctors had placed the toddler on a diet. Yet, he failed to lose weight – and in fact, his weight continued to increase. Doctors said they couldn’t tell whether the child’s parents were properly keeping his diet in check.

Are you kidding me?

Have you seen a 2-year-old prepare his own food? Have you seen a 2-year-old prepare his own snacks? Have you ever seen a 2-year-old know when breakfast ends, lunch begins and dinner is about to be served?

In my opinion, this had to do with parents that just didn’t get it.

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Which brings me to my second point: If doctors were suspicious that the child’s parents were not compliant, why not get more personally involved? Create meal plans for the child; send out social workers to make sure the parents don’t have questions regarding how to properly feed their son. Get nutritionists to help them gain access to the resources they need.

And by the way, this toddler lives in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is an educated, well-developed nation with a lot of resources and great doctors. Yet, it seems to me that the decision to operate on this 2-year-old was premature and it borders on being unethical.

Long-term consequences of bariatric surgery for weight loss are significant and include malnutrition, low blood sugar, ulcers, hernias and even stomach perforation, according to the Mayo Clinic. And when adult patients choose to undergo these procedures, they are doing it with a lot of information and informed consent. Many times, a psychological evaluation is done.

Again, I’m shocked that this procedure was done, and I hope that the medical community in its review of this case points out some of the significant pitfalls of doing this operation on children.