I am really troubled this morning to be reading this article in the LA Times about a leading producer of lap-bands targeting overweight teenagers.
The Irvine company has asked the Food and Drug Administration to approve Lap-Band surgeries for adolescents as young as 14, and is conducting clinical trials on teenage patients, said Cathy Taylor, a company spokeswoman.
Allergan says the device — a silicon ring fitted around the stomach to reduce food intake — has proved a safe and effective way for obese adults to shed pounds. With an estimated one-third of U.S. children now overweight, the benefits should be extended to teenagers, Taylor said.
“We identified a significant need with this patient population in terms of the increasing rate of obesity in younger populations,” Taylor said. “Obesity, if left untreated, correlates to life-threatening diseases.”
Disclosure: I’m not the best (or maybe I am) about talking about weight and health. I’m probably at close to my heaviest weight in my life & I take flack for being clinically ‘obese.’ However, it is not a problem with my body in my opinion. I eat too much and exercise very little. It’s a Gavin psyche issue & it is Gavin who will handle this.
I am trouble by our need in a culture to not take accountability for our selves. Obesity has its population that is predisposed to the illness & the illnesses and psychological affects that come along with it. However, that population is not so large that a medical surgery product company would be angling to market to a niche of that population. We have an alarming issue & a slippery slope we are apparently going to participate in.
Should something like this happen (which teens can already get the surgery if parents sign off on it, the company is just wanting to start marketing to teens) teens will get marketing messages tapping into their fears of being alone or ridiculed (which might be real already). Now they have a medical company telling them they have a magic solution that takes little change to their life except an outpatient day of surgery. It’s an easy fix… That would be the marketing message.
True change in a life, whether it be weight, spiritual growth, education, deeper relationships, health, family enrichment, etc. take intentionality effort & sacrifice. Marketing messages cannot capture that…
As a pastor with teenagers I’ve struggled with the health & eating portion that comes along with ministry programs. Where are we going to stop to eat on the way to the ski slope or missions camp? McDonald’s Wendy’s?… What do we do for our youth swim party/lock-in/Wednesday night worship/visiting group? Cheap Pizza Pizza Pizza…
So here are some quick thoughts in planning for your teenagers if you care for their health:
- Find low calorie meals that volunteers can multiply easily enough for the number of people in your group
- Have a parent volunteer (might even have a nutritionist in your congregation) who coaches you & volunteers on nutrition and food vs food product)
- Stop serving cokes/sodas/pop
- Pack lunches for the road and stop at rest stops
- Throw in some frisbees & footballs, maybe a badminton set to have active games while hanging out, that’d be a cool scene at a rest stop
- Stop looking at travel as a “gotta get there” thing and more of a pilgrimage experience
In other fun listening, check out Spurlock’s latest product placement documentary.
Any other ideas on helping teenagers with food, health and self concept in ministry?