With the drastic increase in childhood obesity over the past decade, parents of toddlers and infants with stubborn baby fat are increasingly turning to a controversial medical procedure called baby liposuction. In 2003, the number of baby liposuctions performed in the United States had increased to 1,045—an increase of more than 700 percent from 2002. But despite the procedure’s growing popularity, some pediatricians call it unneccesary and are concerned about its long term consequences.
“Well, I don’t understand why anybody wouldn’t want this procedure done on their child,” said Margaret Jamison, a mother who has had baby liposuction procedures performed on all three of her children when they were toddlers. “Nobody wants a fat baby, but they come out all plump and chubby.”
Jamison went on, explaining that it’s not easy showing off a fat baby in public. “The other mothers all looked at me like it was my fault my baby was fat. It’s not my fault! Those horrible baby foods are loaded with carbs.”
Dr. Frank Rohuba, a pediatrician at the North Platte Center for the Study of Childhood Obesity, said that mothers like Jamison are becoming common in today’s image-conscious society. “There’s a lot in the news about overweight and obese children. We’ve already seen a backlash against vending machines in schools and lawsuits against fast food restaurants. That attitude is starting to spread into other parts of society.”
But, according to Rohuba, baby liposuction is not the answer. “Any cosmetic procedure is really a cop out. What parents need to do is make sure their babies and toddlers are eating healthy. I’m concerned that parents who give their babies lipsuctions are instilling a sense of beauty that is unrealistic, and that may lead to eating disorders and other psychological problems when those babies become full-size children.”
Representative Jamie Kringle (R-MT) has introduced legislation that would prohibit liposuctions for children under the age of six, but the bill has raised vociferous opposition among those who believe that parents have the right to choose whether their children should be fat. The bill is still in committee, and is not expected to be put to a vote until late summer.
“Kringle and his kind just don’t know what it’s like to have a fat baby,” said Jamison. “If they had fat babies themselves, and had to put up with the ridicule and insults from other parents, they wouldn’t be trying to take away our rights.”