Should Overweight Teen Get Gastric Bypass to Deal With Chronic Weight Problem?

PHOTO: WWYD - Should Overweight Teen Get Gastric Bypass to Deal With Chronic Weight Problem?
Hidden Cameras Roll in Diner as Teenage Girl Begs Mom for Gastric Bypass SurgeryABC News
Should Overweight Teen Get Gastric Bypass to Deal With Chronic Weight Problem? Hidden Cameras Roll in Diner as Teenage Girl Begs Mom for Gastric Bypass Surgery

It's a busy Sunday afternoon at the Edison Diner in New Jersey and some of the customers can't help but overhear what should be a private conversation between a mother and her teen daughter: "Mom, I've done a lot of research and I think gastric bypass is my last hope."

The emotional tone of this exchange escalates, as the daughter, who's overweight but not morbidly obese, says she's tired of trying to lose weight and coping with low self-esteem, social pressures and potential health problems.

Her mom tells her that she has not tried hard enough and that she cheats on her diet, and finally loses her patience: "It is not your last hope. No daughter of mine is getting her stomach stapled. Absolutely not."

What fellow diners don't know is that the teen and mom having this heated discussion are actors and they're playing out a scenario for "What Would You Do?"

Obesity is a health problem for 72 million people in the United States., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 200,000 Americans turned to gastric bypass surgery, a procedure that surgically shrinks the stomach, making it hard to eat large portions and thus helping a patient reduce food intake and calories, in 2009, according to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.

To provide insight for the scenario, "What Would You Do?" brought in Dr. Mehmet Oz, a heart surgeon and Emmy award-winning TV host.

"I want to learn from people intervening what they're thinking," Oz says, "because I think it reflects what's happening around the country when people hear the stories about the usefulness of gastric bypass or the horrors, fears you may have about it. Both are defensible. It's not a panacea."

Watch the scenario unfold on "What Would You Do?" Friday at 9 p.m. ET.

As we watch our hidden cameras with Dr. Oz, we see that people seem to be listening to the mother and daughter's conversation, but no one is reacting. So we decide to involve a woman sitting next to the mom: "Excuse me ma'am. Can you believe my daughter wants a gastric bypass?"

"You want to know how I feel?" the woman replies. "I think you should go with her to the doctor and let her see if it is the right thing for her or not. Because you are thin and you look at life differently. I am heavy and I'm on Weight Watchers, so I feel her pain."

The actors -- mother and daughter -- continue arguing to the point that the daughter leaves the table in tears. Then a woman who had been quietly listening at a nearby table gets up and follows the daughter to offer emotional support and advice on alternatives to a gastric bypass. She talks to the teen about a nutritional supplement she has used to lose weight -- something that has been a personal struggle for her, as well.

At this point, ABC News' John Quinones and Dr. Oz come out and reveal that it is all part of a "WWYD" scenario.

"You kind of discouraged her from getting any surgery," Quinones says to the woman.

"There are risks with having gastric bypass surgery and I was telling her that I could see exactly where her mother was coming from with the concerns," the woman says. "I kind of related to her in a sense, when she was saying how hard it was for her to lose weight. I'm still working on it, but I'm making progress, and just being dedicated to myself, knowing what I want to do."

The first line of defense is diet and exercise, according to Dr. Oz. But he says gastric bypass surgery is an option when everything else fails.

"If you're 50 pounds overweight and you have a medical problem or 30 pounds overweight with a medical problem, the FDA, which regulates these issues, and Medicare and Medicaid, the groups that pay for this are now saying it's OK as long as you have a medical problem."

Mom Pushes Gastric Bypass Surgery on Daughter

When the scenario is played out again, this time the mom is the one who wants the gastric bypass for her daughter's chronic weight problem.

"You're going to look beautiful -- you'll be skinnier," the mom says.

"Mom, why are you ashamed of me?" the daughter replies.

"You are my daughter and a reflection of who I am," says the mom.

A couple listening nearby can't stand to hear what should be a private conversation and complains to the manager. Another woman, Samantha, breaks out in tears and when our emotionally distraught teen actor leaves the table, Samantha follows her to give her a hug and to comfort her:

"How old are you?" Samantha asks.

"I'm going to be 18 in November," the actor replies.

"You're too young to have a surgery such as that," Samantha says. "I struggle with it sometimes. I love my mom to death. But of course, that's your mother. But sometimes, especially with what I just witnessed with your mom, they're not the most positive influences in your life."

Then, Samantha is confronted by her mother, who defends herself.

"But you understand what I'm trying to do: I'm trying to help her," the mother says.

"I understand the main idea of trying to help her, but what I don't understand is the way of doing it," Samantha responds.

Quinones and Dr. Oz introduce themselves to Samantha, who is relieved to know this is only a scenario, but is still in tears.

"Why were you so involved?" Quinones asks.

"I just got so upset, overhearing what I did. Oh my God, I really can't talk right now," Samantha replies.

"What was it that upset you?" Quinones asks.

"Just, such negativity," she says. "I don't know. People go through stuff all the time. But it's different when you witness it and see it first-hand. ... I had to say something."

For our teen actress, who in reality struggles with her weight problem, Samantha turned out to be a real hero -- someone brave enough to be willing to take action and do what she felt was the right thing to do.

Watch the scenario unfold on "What Would You Do?" on Friday at 9 p.m. ET.