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12:31 PM

The New York Times Magazine: Bariatric Surgery at 16

By Helen Ouyang

Last fall, Alexandra Duarte, who is now 16, went to see her endocrinologist at Texas Children’s Hospital, outside Houston. From age 10, she had been living with polycystic ovary syndrome and, more recently, prediabetes. After Alexandra described her recent quinceañera, the doctor brought up an operation that might benefit her, one that might help her lose weight and, as a result, improve these obesity-related problems.

Alexandra, who smiles shyly and speaks softly but confidently, says she was “a little skeptical at first because, like, it’s a surgery.” But her mother, Gabriela Velez, suggested that her daughter consider it. “Ever since I was a toddler, my mom knew that I was struggling with obesity,” Alexandra says.

Through the years, Alexandra seemed to have tried everything. She went through periods when she avoided all carbs and days when she drank only water. She turned to commercial products, from Herbalife to diet pills to meal-replacement shakes. Desperation — and hope — led her to try gimmicky lotions that promised to burn fat. Puberty seemed to make things worse. Her doctors dispensed “basically the same talk everyone else gives me,” she says: Follow the government’s MyPlate plan; eat lots of vegetables; have anything, but don’t overdo it.


Read the full story via The New York Times Magazine

Children's Mercy Kansas City Weight Management Program