Developments at Childhood Obesity, the Journal

Book shelves
The magazine Childhood Obesity used to be known as Obesity and Weight Management, until its focus became more defined. It seems to be getting off to a faltering start. After an announced debut date of June 2010, the first issue did not appear until September of that year. It was meant to be a bimonthly, but does not seem to have produced another issue since then. Because of the name change, the premier issue of Childhood Obesity is confusingly known as Vol. 6 No. 4.

An interesting feature of the publication is the presence of John P. Foreyt, Ph.D., on its editorial board. Dr. Foreyt is a professor at the Baylor College of Medicine, and he contributed the Foreword to Dr. Pretlow’s book, Overweight: What Kids Say. And what a nice Foreword it was! Dr. Foreyt said,

The ideas of Dr. Pretlow’s book are quite controversial, given our strong cultural dependence on food and belief by many that weight loss is only a matter of will power… This outstanding book offers new insights into the causes of the childhood obesity epidemic by a pioneer in the field. The emotional messages from the kids themselves are oftentimes heartbreaking. The book offers fresh ideas for stemming the problem and preventing it from worsening. A major contribution to the field.

Getting back to Childhood Obesity, some people, including Dr. Pretlow, were leery of the idea of a peer-reviewed, scientific journal being funded by a foundation whose holdings mostly consist of stock in a company that manufactures products composed largely of various forms of sugar. As Dr. Pretlow wrote in “Childhood Obesity Conflicts of Interest,”

Emerging new evidence indicates that sugar may be addicting and thus a possible cause of the childhood obesity epidemic. Exposure to sugary kids’ cereals might induce sugar addiction in children. The Kellogg Company may not want articles on food addiction to appear in Childhood Obesity.

The question was a provocative one, echoed by Michael Prager, author of Fat Boy Thin Man, who asked,

How can a peer-review journal maintain its independence with such funding? Roughly two-thirds of the foundation’s assets are in the form of Kellogg’s stock, which certainly appears to tie its fortunes to Kellogg’s products…

Childhood Obesity describes itself as,

… the journal of record for all aspects of communication on the broad spectrum of issues and strategies related to weight management and obesity prevention in children and adolescents.

All that adds up to a tall order, and it’s no wonder the project has taken a while to get off the ground. Anxiety about the direction of this new journal has abated somewhat since Dr. David Katz was made editor-in-chief. This happy event was reported by Vicki Cohn on behalf of Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., the publisher of Childhood Obesity. Cohn says,

Childhood Obesity provides physicians, nurses, dietitians, diabetes educators, nutritionists, psychologists, educators and school nurses, community organizers, and policymakers with effective prevention and treatment strategies that promote environmental and policy changes, patient education and motivation tools, and clinical advances in the field. The Journal has a very broad mission to be the premier journal and central forum on childhood and adolescent obesity.

Liebert describes it this way:

Childhood Obesity covers all aspects of managing an obese child. The editorial content addresses genetic factors that contribute to obesity and includes results-oriented programs.

And the reporter quotes Dr. Katz, on his vision for the periodical:

Childhood Obesity is a unique blend of scholarship, pragmatism, and calls to action that I think is perfectly suited to the challenges and urgencies of epidemic obesity and attendant chronic disease in children and adolescents alike.

Among other posts and honors, Dr. Katz is co-founder and Director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center. He has been a guest columnist here at Childhood Obesity News, with a piece titled “The Weight of Secrets and Shame.” (His official bio appears on that page too).

Yale University, not surprisingly, was the source earlier this year of a report called “Neural Correlates of Food Addiction,” which confirmed what many of us already knew, that food substances can be as addictive as drugs. Subjects of the study were given questions to determine their status on the Yale Food Addiction Scale, and the researchers found that the subjects who scored higher also exhibited neural activity similar to what is seen in the brains of drug addicts. It will be interesting to see how much attention the journal Childhood Obesity pays to the importance of viewing the childhood obesity epidemic through the psychological food dependence-addiction lens.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Products,” LiebertPub.com
Source: “David Katz, MD, MPH Named Editor-in-Chief of Childhood Obesity Journal,” LiebertPub.com, 02/17/11
Image by uitdragerij (Hans D.), used under its Creative Commons license.

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Childhood Obesity News | OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say | Dr. Robert A. Pretlow
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