Can a child who's had gastric bypass surgery keep the weight off—especially if he's surrounded by a family with poor eating habits? Dr. Brandt says yes, because the surgery is an enforced behavioral modification. "The behavior that we're all supposed to learn if we're going to lose weight, you must do it if you've had the surgery," she says. "I think that's the key. You can't cheat."
Not all doctors agree with Dr. Brandt's methods. Dr. Diana Farmer, a pediatric surgeon at the University of California, San Francisco Children's Hospital, thinks children should wait before going under the knife. "Many people argue that this kind of surgery is worth the risk because it will save lives in the long-term," she says. "My question is, 'How many children are dropping dead from obesity before the age of 18?' The answer is none. … There are very serious long-term implications related to this surgery."
Dr. Mehmet Oz also warns that neither surgery is necessarily a permanent fix. "The stomach can grow," he says. "If the band, for example, is placed at a spot that's not ideal, it can shift. But in gastric bypass surgery, the pouch size could also grow. People can eat their way through these diets by [eating] lots of milk shakes and foods that don't have a lot of substance to them."