There are fresh calls to help children battling obesity after an 11-year-old boy – who weighed about 135kg – was unable to have weight-loss surgery unlike his 15-year-old brother.
The boy refused to go to school because the playground became too difficult for him psychologically.
“It was not worth it, the boy could learn nothing in the environment that had been created,” said surgeon Dr George Hopkins at the Australian New Zealand College of Anaesthetist’s Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM) in Brisbane.
“It was literally gut-wrenching.”
The Brisbane-based surgeon has been performing effective sleeve gastrectomies on adolescents for years and says his patients have been getting younger.
“The need out there is just screaming, it’s just a question of getting everybody on board,” he said.
"These parents are often desperate. If someone is dragging their kid along to see me because they care, they're prepared to go through all the steps to do it. It's not child abuse, it's anything but."
Childhood obesity may have dropped out of the headlines in recent times, but that doesn't mean the problem has gone away. In fact, it's the opposite. One in four Australian children aged 2-17 are either overweight or obese.
Dr Hopkins says parents of obese children are pleading for the surgical intervention yet the Australian hospital system is "unequipped" to meet their needs.