In 2010, a Saudi Arabian boy became the youngest person in the world to have weight-loss surgery. At that time, the boy weighed 72.7 pounds and had a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 44.1. That would be the equivalent of the BMI of a 6 foot tall man weighing 325 pounds.
When the child was born, he weighed a normal amount. However, by 14 months of age, the boy weighed 46 pounds. At that point, doctors decided to place the child on a diet. However, during the next 4 months, the child managed to gain 17 pounds. Why, you ask?
"Although the parents were informed about the importance of a strict dietary regimen a full compliance cannot be ascertained mainly due to the different socio cultural habits and the absence of the practice of calculating the calorific value of the diet."
Essentially, the parents were killing the kid because they couldn't follow a diet regimen. Granted, the report states that calories are not monitored as they are in western cultures, but common sense would dictate that doctor told the parents what foods they should have been feeding the kid.
So, doctors in Saudi Arabia ran tests to determine if this weight-gain was caused by genetics, heredity, or a brain tumor; the results came back negative. Because the child was suffering from severe sleep apnea and a bowing of the legs, doctors decided to take a risk and perform a Laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy (LSG).
LSG surgery differs greatly from a gastric bypass or lap-band surgery. In a lap-band surgery, the doctors essentially limit how big the stomach can get with a rubber-band-esque contraption. A lap-band surgery is reversible. In a gastric bypass surgery, a small pouch is created next to the stomach which is attached directly to the esophagus and a portion of the small intestine. This procedure allows for food to bypass a portion of the small intestine, leading to faster digestion and less absorption of fat. In a LSG procedure, doctors remove the right portion of the stomach and create a smaller stomach, which is then stretched out and stapled to resemble a banana.
The surgery was performed in 2010, and since then the child has seen remarkable results. In a 24 month follow-up, doctors witnessed a weight reduction of 52 pounds, and the child's BMI had dropped to 24%.
Doctors are still curious as to what a long-term follow-up will show. For now, though, doctors are fairly optimistic about the benefits of performing bariatric surgery on children:
LSG may be used in very young children provided they have co-morbidities and no improvement with medical and conservative multidisciplinary management. In our patient, the weight reduction was significant and his associated symptoms resolved with time indicating its safety and efficacy.
Before this child, the youngest person to ever have weight loss surgery was also Saudi Arabian. Perhaps Saudi Arabia should start labeling food with the amount of calories it has? Just a suggestion...
Image via YouTube