Weight loss heroes: Gastric banding saved my teen’s life

Elle Macpherson's amazing body at 47

Terrified for her obese 14-year-old daughter’s health, Juliet Hill took drastic action.

Pretty British teen Katie Hill still complains today that when she takes off her clothes, she looks like an 80-year-old. After losing more than half her body weight in less than a year, Katie’s been left with excess skin that she’s saving up to have removed. But for her mum, Juliet Hill, it’s a small price to pay for her controversial decision to allow Katie to undergo a gastric banding procedure at just 14.

At 13, Katie weighed 114kg and was a size 28. Juliet insists that if she hadn’t given her consent, Katie – now 18, a healthy size 10 and just over 50kg – wouldn’t have lived to see 40. “She was the youngest person in the UK to have the operation and, despite the backlash, looking at Katie now, it was the best decision I ever made,” says Juliet. “Katie’s happier and healthier than I could have ever hoped.”

Juliet blamed herself for Katie’s out-of-control weight. Even as a baby, she and husband Gary fed their daughter 10 bottles a day to satisfy her insatiable appetite. “Again and again we took her to the doctor, but there was nothing they could do,” she says. “I suspected Kate was sneaking food, but I couldn’t watch her every minute of the day.”

Encouraged by the results of her own gastric banding operation in 2006, Juliet consulted the same surgeon. He agreed to do it, providing Juliet gave her consent – but she was hesitant at first, given the risks involved. “Katie was over the moon, but we were apprehensive,” says Juliet. “It was dangerous – there’s a risk of infection or the band slipping – but she was determined to have it done.” Once she’d had the procedure, Katie was sore at first, but amazed everyone with how quickly she adapted.

Read more about Katie’s story plus read more inspirational weight loss stories in this Woman’s Day on sale February 6, 2012.

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