"I just get mad and wanna fight," KeAira said -- something that would often lead a school suspension.
KeAira's repeated attempts to diet failed and so she decided to take the bold step her brother now took. KeAira has lost 208 pounds in 21 months, but not without struggle.
Though she is now a happy, healthy 160 pounds, she confesses that right after the surgery, she had some regrets. She wanted to eat, even though the size of her stomach meant she couldn't actually be hungry.
Food had been her comfort, her friend. And she hated to give it up.
"I'm used to eating when I'm depressed," KeAira said. She hopes to be able to help her brother Jarvis face some of these difficulties (click here to read more about KeAira's story).
Jarvis and KeAira are part of a staggering trend. In Houston alone, 220,000 children are obese and McKay said over the past decade, the number of children diagnosed with type 2 diabetes has increased sixfold.
Dr. William Klish, who is the head of the obesity clinic at the Texas Children's Hospital in Houston, admits that type 2 obesity-related diabetes in children is an epidemic that needs to be addressed. This is why he has devoted more research to gastric bypass surgery in children.
"I originally talked to the surgeons here about the possibility of developing bariatric surgery because I was seeing children literally dying from their co-morbidities from, from obesity," said Klish.
Klish considers childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes to be the most serious public health problem in America today, shortening the lifespans of children significantly.
"If a child develops diabetes before the age of 14, they lose somewhere between 17 and 27 years of life expectancy," said Klish. "And that life isn't gonna be a good life."
Not only do obesity and type 2 diabetes shorten life spans, but they place an enormous toll on our health care system. And Klish worries that it will only get worse.
"The medical costs of this are going to become overwhelming," said Klish. "We think we have a problem with insurance costs now, just wait another 10 or 20 years when this generation of children start developing all these diseases."
Klish believes that bariatric surgery can help alleviate the problem, but understands it is not without risk.
"And that's why we're doing this whole thing as a research project," said Klish. "We're doing it very slowly, deliberately."
He hopes the research will determine whether the benefit is greater than the risk. So far, it appears that it has been for KeAira, who is now eager to help her brother through his own surgery.
"I hope it won't be a tough road for Jarvis," she said. "But he likes to eat, and so I know he'll get depressed, and I am just going to do the same things he did for me -- not eat in front of him, encourage him to keep going and just hope for the best."
Jarvis was scheduled to be released from the hospital today.