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Teen Obesity

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Teen Obesity
By: Wendy Ray

(Sikeston, MO)--A Heartland teenager is speaking out on teen obesity. 17 year old Valerie Estes is leading her way to a healthier lifestyle. She says gastric bypass surgery is to thank.

"I just felt out of place," Valerie says. "I didn't fit in with everyone else, attention was drawn to me." Valerie has struggled with her weight her entire life. She says she tried everything to lose it. "I tried many diets, all kinds of them," she says. "Exercise, nothing worked. I'd lose it, then I'd gain back even more." So Valerie tried something else, gastric bypass surgery. "I've lost a whole person," she says.

In just one year, Valerie's lost 179 pounds. Valerie chose gastric bypass surgery, after she saw the success an aunt and a cousin had with the surgery. Before the operation, Valerie's stomach was about the length of a ruler. Now, her stomach is about three inches long, or the size of an index finger. Part of Valerie's stomach was re-attached to her small intestine. Since her stomach was dramatically reduced, so was her appetite. "Now I have an appetite but nothing like it was," she says. Lunchtime at school, and every meal for that matter, is different for Valerie now. She can't drink sodas, or eat sugar. It's a very strict diet, high in protein. It's definitely a lifestyle change, but one that Valerie says she'll make, to feel like everyone else at school. She hopes her story will encourage other teens who struggle with their weight to never give up. "Exercise, walk," she says. "There's always something you can do."

Gastric bypass surgery was the best option for Valerie, it's not for everyone. There can be serious complications which can lead to death. Only a doctor can determine if you're a candidate for gastric bypass.

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