San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

Don’t trim the fat before children can grow into their bodies

Weight-loss surgery should not be considered for teens when they have yet to fully develop.
Illustration by Alexandra Dunlop.

The red, glaring numbers on my bathroom scale stared back at me one night when I was a teenager.


I hated what I saw in the mirror and I wanted to change.

Last month, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a “Guideline for the Evaluation and Treatment of Children and Adolescents With Obesity” that recommended doctors to offer obese children 12 years and older weight loss drugs. It said teens 13 and older who suffer from severe obesity should get a referral for weight loss surgery. 

The 13-year-old fat kid in me loves the idea. 

I wouldn’t have to be placed in the “fat-boy positions” anymore. 

I would no longer automatically become the goalkeeper in soccer, the offensive lineman in football and the first baseman in baseball. 

The other part of the fat kid in me is mad. 

I would have only been able to pour my morning bowl of Reese’s Puffs a quarter full if I’d had gastric bypass.  If a doctor had offered me a way to surgically remove the unwanted fat — and my therapist mother miraculously allowed it — I might have taken them up on the offer. 

And I’m so glad I didn’t. 

The recent guidance from the AAP has stirred the public — for good reason. 

The idea of seventh-graders taking weight loss pills and eighth-graders being put under the knife seems unfathomable to me. It’s especially concerning when the most common weight-loss surgery can have an almost 60% failure rate, according to the Bariatric Times.

These alleged solutions to obesity in children represent major problems in the way we think about healthcare in America. Instead of implementing a one-size-fits-all medical practice to combat obesity, maybe we should be creating healthy lifestyle habits catered to our relationship with food and exercise. Maybe we should think about health more holistically. And maybe, just maybe, not allow parents to make life altering decisions for their children when they haven’t had time to grow into their bodies.

Now, Michelle Obama swapping pudding for jello in the school lunch line may not be the perfect solution. 

But it’s a start. 

The idea behind slowly changing your diet to eat healthier or eat less is promoted by the CDC as it offers the most sustainable route for long term healthy lifestyles. This gradual change will allow one to learn their body and what works for them. 

And that’s the beauty of this method. 

No matter how cheesy it sounds, it helps people find what works for them specifically. Everyone’s health plans look different and it is time we started to treat them as such. 

The United States’ obsession with getting people hooked on “medicine” or quick fixes on the operating table is unsustainable. 

Taking weight loss pills is not a solution, but a mere bandaid to an internal problem.

And with the high failure rate of many bariatric surgeries, 10% to 30% of people who have received the surgery end up coming back for a revision, according to IBI Healthcare. While these practices work for some, there is no long-term evidence to see if it is effective in children. 

Holistic medicine addresses not only the body, but the mind and spirit attached. Without looking at weight loss as a whole, and only looking at it on a purely physical level, we could be allowing a generation of kids to have extremely unhealthy relationships with food. 

Bariatric surgery will not fix a food addiction, binge eating or bulimia. These relationships must be mended from the root of the problem. This problem has presented itself before inside American healthcare, as 13% of Americans are currently on antidepressants, according to Psychology Today. While these drugs can help on a base level, they are temporary solutions to a permanent problem. 

When I was 13, I had not even fully hit puberty yet. Many kids, specifically boys who are “late bloomers,” will sometimes not begin large growth spurts until 14, according to

It is paramount we allow our bodies to make their natural changes before making life-altering decisions. 

Weight loss surgeries can be extremely beneficial for adults who struggle with weight loss and there is evidence to support that. 

However, to ask a child to make a decision that will modify their internal organs is unfair and the option should not be put forth in front of any overweight teenager. 

Two years after I decided to change my eating habits, the red numbers on the scale didn’t feel like a personal attack. I’d lost over 115 pounds. Learning to maintain my weight has been a journey. It’s a struggle I’ll be on for the rest of my life, like so many others who have made the same choice. 

But it is one I encourage all to take — when they are at the right age to decide what is the best journey for them. 

About the Contributor
Christian Houser
Christian Houser, '22-23 News Editor
Christian Houser (he/him/his) is a Journalism and Economics double major, originally from Frisco, Texas. He is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists chapter at SDSU and is heading into his final year. His love for writing and learning has led him to his new role as the Daily Aztec’s (DA) News Editor. If Christian isn’t playing basketball or exploring new places, you’ll find him reading news articles, watching documentaries and seeking the absolute truth in journalism. Christian is looking forward to bringing intriguing and hard-hitting news stories to SDSU and the Daily Aztec.
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San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913
Don’t trim the fat before children can grow into their bodies