Jacob’s Story: A Bariatric Surgery and Weight Loss Journey

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“Be kinder than necessary for everyone is fighting some kind of battle.”

This quote is tattooed on the arm of one of our patients from the Surgical Weight Loss Program for Teens. I think about this poignant statement often.

It came to mind when I first met Jacob Miller, a 15-year-old who came to our clinic when he weighed 700 pounds. My heart went out to him and his family as they described his uncontrollable battle with weight gain and the stigma and bullying that came along with it.

As I got to know Jacob and the Miller family better, we decided to tell his story together because we want to increase awareness, understanding and compassion for children and teens who are struggling with weight gain and severe obesity that is often out of their control.

In Jacob’s case, his family explained that his weight gain started from birth. He was born weighing nearly 12 pounds and by his first birthday he weighed 50 pounds. As a young teenager he was gaining 100 pounds a year.

We know that something other than poor dietary choices and lack of exercise contributed to Jacob’s weight gain, but the exact explanation is hard to find.

Why is that? There are hundreds of neural and biochemical pathways and steps that control the amount of weight that kids gain during their childhood. Sometimes these pathways do not function properly and either extreme poor weight can be seen, or on rare occasions, extreme rapid weight gain. We currently do not know exactly what pathways are affected in Jacob’s case – although scientists are actively working on this very topic in many parts of the world.

For Jacob, we decided that a laparoscopic gastric bypass was the best option to slow down his weight gain and improve his overall health — diabetes and cardiovascular problems in particular.

Bariatric surgery was just the beginning of Jacob’s long journey. In this documentary we’re sharing with you today, you’ll see that Jacob continues to face challenges, but is heading in the right direction and we’re proud of the progress he’s made so far.

Thomas Inge, MD, PhD

About the Author: Thomas Inge, MD, PhD

Thomas Inge, MD, PhD, is the surgical director for the Surgical Weight Loss Program for Teens and the director of the Center for Bariatric Research and Innovation. He has authored or co-authored over 120 peer-reviewed publications and book chapters, mostly related to minimally-invasive surgery and pediatric obesity. He has been funded by the National Institutes of Health since 2005 to conduct clinical research related to pediatric obesity, endocrinology, and bariatric surgery.

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  1. Jeannie hare February 09, 21:09
    Proud ofyou you look good keep it up
  2. heather matheny February 10, 17:08
    very proud of you jacob keep up the good work u are doing excellent....it takes courage an mind settinga to do what your doing congrats on the weight loss already an cant wait see where the road takes u....god bless
  3. Robert Blind February 10, 18:29
    I drove bus at Jacob's old school and recall him as a very polite young man and well mannered. I didn't drive his bus but would see him pass by mine everyday. So very happy to see the progress you are making and wanted to say keep up the great work. You can reach any goal you set all it takes is sheer determination and a strong will to drive through the hard times and a good stride even when you are on those easy down hill slopes when the weight is melting away. Head up young man you have a lot to be proud of and may you inspire other young men and women to have the courage to do the same. Again keep up the great work. May you live long and healthy and take the world by storm. Sincerely, Robert Blind
  4. Cheryl Reynolds February 17, 18:04
    Jacob, your journey inspires all of us to take ownership of our health, to make choices that will prolong our life and allow us to live our dreams. Thank you for having the courage to share your story with others!
  5. my son Talon and I met Jacob back in the summer of 2014. We met at the annual picnic as my son was struggling with having surgery. Jacob talked to talon like he was his brother and told him that it was the best decision he had ever made. He helped him to really think about what this surgery could do for him. Jacob is one of the biggest influences in talons decision to have surgery. Jacob is a very sweet young man whom we are both glad we talked to. Talon had his surgery December 19 2014 at Cincinnati Children's Dr Inge was his surgeon
  6. BRITTANY March 09, 10:30
    What an inspiration! Great job Jacob! Keep up the good work, your story brought a tear to my eye, you are so brave!
  7. Tanny March 29, 08:46
    What a great story for both Jacob and Dr. Inge. My son had adolescent obesity to 350#. It is incredibly difficult to cope with at that age; his friends and school are so crucial. As a nurse, I admire Bariatric specialists. This is such a huge need that has been poorly addressed. Keep on rockin', Jacob, there are many more dances in your future! Blessings.
  8. Kathy June 22, 01:48
    I hope Jacob overcomes his weight issue. Prove them wrong Jacob, Be a warrior and win the battle. You can do this.
  9. Robin Aldrich June 24, 01:32
    Jacob, I was so moved by your story. The strength, character and dedication you've shown is an inspiration. Keep heading in the right direction and don't give up, no matter what!!
  10. James hannegrefs June 24, 02:27
    I am a 66 years old with a grandson that has had to go through this! He was the first teen to have this process done in the brand new children's hospital at the university of Minnesota. We waited long hard years to be granted this chance to help Jake. My god we love him!! He is doing well.
  11. brenda killpack RN July 02, 01:27
    Wow!great young man. Jacob, you are an inspiration to all. Awesome. Thank you for sharing your story. we will keep you in our prayers.
  12. Liz Cravens July 04, 02:29
    WOW Jacob, great job! I haven't done as well as you and now I'm older and it's almost impossible to lose. But you know Jacob, I said almost impossible, not impossible, so I'm keeping on keeping on. You're an inspiration to all, not just the young people. Don't give up ever and trust in God, He WILL help you.
  13. Vicki Estrada July 08, 01:30
    People can be so heartless & mean! Don't let people like that get in the way of reaching your goal Jacob! Stay focused on your goal! Keep positive people around you at all times! I know you can do this!
    • Nick July 19, 02:10
      Happy for you Jacob. I was 400 lbs a year ago and now 250. Still need to lose but much happier today. Love you man...........
  14. Daniel Calandri July 18, 02:54
    Jacob, Great job! You are an inspiration to each of us. This Victory is yours. You have such a loving family that supports you and God has provided a wonderful medical team that surrounds you. I will begin to pray for you, your family and medical team each night. Remember, God will never give you more than you can handle Jacob. All you need to do is Trust and Believe in him. God Bless Brother Daniel
  15. Yvonne Jayne July 20, 01:45
    Hey Jacob, I admire your courage and strong will. You are an inspiration for others facing your same struggles. Thank you Jacob.
  16. kay albro July 26, 01:20
    good lock in all you do in this life
  17. jacek August 04, 07:09
    Dear doctor Thomas Inge, Thank you for posting this story of Jacob. I am a 44yr old seminary student (of so called late vocations) of a priest seminary in Poland. I tend to watch a lot of stuff on addiction and people fighting other life battles. Perhaps I will find my ministry down this line someday. People like Jacob, Tanisha Mitchell and other unnamed so many deserve the best of help. If you are in touch with Jacob please give him my best. His case is different for the unidentified (as the video says) medical condition that shows symptoms of some kind of gigantism alongside the obesity as such. It's probably a part of some more complex puzzle (tyrhoidal, somatropine, something genetic or God knows what). Nevertheless. Please give to him from me this quote from St.Paul's 2 Cor 12,9 "my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." .... I wish him all the power in the world to keep on going.... best regards Jack
  18. angela December 26, 13:42
    Fantastic. Keep up the great work! You can do it jacob! Any updates on how he's doing now?
    • Rachel Camper
      Rachel Camper December 29, 09:23
      Hi Angela (and others who have asked for an update): With 4 million views on his video, Jacob has received both friend requests and negative comments from all over the world. His mom says they have tried to view negative feedback as "teachable moments" and have also found a lot of supporters along the way. They are encouraged by people facing similar struggles. Jacob is still seen at Cincinnati Children's, and he also works with the University of Cincinnati's weight center. His weight continues to yo-yo. He gained about 100 pounds this year. He started taking medicine to aid in his weight loss and has shed about 26 pounds. Weight is a daily battle, but he is keeping at it. He is a high school senior who hopes to become a veterinary technician. He wants to work with animals who won't judge his size.
      • Jacek from Poland December 29, 11:17
        Hello again, Season's greetings to Jacob from a friend faraway in Poland! Keep it up ... There's your cross I should say... but keep going. The world belongs to the brave and your particular condition can only teach you the perseverance, consistence and focus - the skills everyone needs and which you will reapply elsewhere in life. I guess you may take it this way - with all the skills of heart and soul you develop you may be better 'battle-trained' for life - also as a vet technician and you will get that unique perspective on suffering and empathy. It can only make you a better person yet. BVut you are great already (no pun intended!). God bless in the New Year..... Please - Rachel - if you are in touch with Jacob - pass my best greetings to him. The world cares! :)
      • Candee December 30, 02:20
        I wish him well.....he knows this is not an easy journey, but it is necessary for his overall health and his life! Onward & downward in this case! Take care Jacob, you're wonderful family & friends are the four you.
        • Candee December 30, 02:24
          Hate auto-correct....my previous post should read: Take care Jacob, your wonderful family & friends are there for you!
  19. Mel December 27, 18:15
    I have been looking EVERYWHERE for current photos of Jacob Miller progress and what he looks like today. I have searched for over an hour and every site says "see what he looks like today" I have yet to see any of his progress. Can someone tell me where to find this photo? I think what Jacob is doing is so courageous and I tiered up when I listened to his story. The surgery was 2013 and we are now in 2015. Let's see the progress....
  20. Sam December 27, 19:46
    How is Jacob now? What a beautiful, brave, determined young man. Wishing nothing but health and happiness to Jacob, family and friends xx
  21. Yolandita Ocasio January 24, 22:56
    Congrats you are doing such a good job. Can you send me a picture of how you doing now? Again congratulations. ????
  22. Nagem April 18, 06:01
    Very Good Jacob you have done a great job, every new trainee inspires by reading your blog. Many people have this type of problem and they have no idea how to control his/ her weight loss but you do so well to share this info.