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Feb 22

Extreme Weight Loss For Teens

Credit: Nationwide Children's Hospital

Megan after her surgery and weight loss.

As Megan Muncy smoothes her sweatshirt over her abdomen, she can feel where rolls of fat once bulged underneath her clothing. 

Now 16, she knows the world through the eyes of an obese child. Megan knows what it's like to be judged by her weight, to sit in silence and embarrassment and to stay home because there she's safe from criticism.

"I didn’t have a lot of energy. I really didn’t want to go out and do anything with my friends," said Megan.

At 14, Megan says she hit her high weight of 350 pounds. 

"I felt horrible about myself -- that I even let myself get to that weight," said Megan who tried endless diets and programs to lose weight over the years.                                       
She had the medical record of someone decades older than her, facing high cholesterol and high blood pressure, and was prediabetic.

Megan made a choice that would forever change her life, the way she eats and the way she sees herself. 

She chose to have gastric bypass surgery, a weight-loss surgery that can lead to extreme weight loss by altering the size of the stomach.

"We limit the size of the stomach to about the size of my fist. We actually bypass about 30 percent of the small intestine, and that is really where you absorb all your calories and nutrients," said Dr. Marc Michalsky, a pediatric surgeon at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus.

Bariatric surgery causes a restriction in the amount of food a patient can eat, so they feel full faster and eat less, losing up to one pound a day. It is a drastic approach to weight loss, once reserved for adults who found no other way to lose weight.

More teenagers are choosing bariatric surgery, hoping to avoid a lifetime of obesity. In the United States, obesity is clearly an epidemic. A third of all American children are either overweight or obese. Many have been on and off diets and are now turning to their doctors for weight-loss surgery. 

"These operations turn out to be very safe. Adolescent bariatric surgery is actually as safe, if not safer, in this age group," said Michalsky. 

In order to even be considered for the surgery, Nationwide Children's Hospital requires patients be a minimium of 100 pounds overweight and be on a medically supervised diet for six months prior to the surgery. 

Michalsky said NCH performs about 30 bariatric surgeries on teenagers a year.  That's a sharp increase since 2005 when she says only about five surgeries were performed each year.

Megan is now 16 and weighs 203 pounds. She says she is happy, healthy and no longer facing a life of obesity and diabetes.

"I can’t really have sugar, and if I do, it has to be a very small amount of it. I can't have high-fat foods, so no fried foods or fast food," said Megan.

Megan says she would like to lose another 25 pounds and works hard to eat right and exercise.

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Extreme Weight Loss For Teens

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