“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.