Page last updated at 00:06 GMT, Monday, 12 October 2009 01:06 UK

Obese children 'reject surgery'

Obese boy
Obese children think weight loss surgery is dangerous and cheating

A survey of clinically obese children says they reject the idea of weight loss surgery.

More than half of 100 children, who are on the government backed Carnegie Weight Management Programme, say they view gastric bands as "cheating'"

But two-thirds feel they do not get any support to overcome their weight issues when they are at school.

An obesity expert said there needed to be better provision of weight loss services to support children.

'Massive rejection'

Professor Paul Gateley, who leads the Carnegie Weight Management programme in Leeds, said the team had surveyed 100 children aged eight to 17 who had all been diagnosed as clinically obese.

He said this was the first time that anyone had tried to capture the views of obese children.

The real message here is that young people don't feel they are offered enough support when they seek to tackle their weight problems
Dr Ian Campbell, Weight Concern

Only 29% of the children saw eating too much junk food as the cause of their problem.

The majority (59%) claimed that managing portion sizes was the main reason for their heavy weight.

They felt surgery was not just cheating (60%) but dangerous (71%) and just under two-thirds (61%) believed there were easier ways to lose weight.

Professor Gateley said: "Many people talk about surgery for obese children but really this is a massive rejection of it by the children themselves.

"They want to be normal and be given the guidance and self-esteem necessary to beat their weight issues."

School problems

More than half the children (60%) felt they do not get any support in overcoming their weight issues at school.

They also complained (42%) that they are subjected to bullying because of their size.

Professor Gateley said: "Across the board, school is not helping them sort their weight out - the food is problematic, the exercise is inappropriate for them and the bullying culture against them is not addressed."

The obese children had the normal fears and worries of teenagers and 58% think their body weight and image will prevent them from getting a boyfriend or girlfriend.

A similar percentage were worried that their weight will prevent them from pursuing their dream career.

Professor Gateley said: "We know from outcomes evidence that they won't have the same chances - they are less likely to get married and US studies show they may even be paid less for the same job."

'Talk to teacher'

Dr Ian Campbell of the charity Weight Concern said more weight loss services for children were needed.

He said: "The real message here is that young people don't feel they are offered enough support when they seek to tackle their weight problems.

"In my experience it is very difficult for young people to raise the subject of weight with their family, let alone a health professional or teacher."

A Department of Health spokesman said: "Obesity is the biggest health challenge we face.

"Whether to prescribe drugs or recommend surgery is rightly a clinical decision.

"Independent guidance on obesity from NICE recommends that drugs and surgery should always be a last resort - a better diet and more exercise should be tried first."



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