One week ago, Childhood Obesity News looked back at some of Dr. Pretlow’s presentations to various professional groups, leaving off in October of 2010, at the Royal College of Physicians National Obesity Forum. Today the retrospective continues. We already mentioned some, but not all, of the ideas included in his plenary session presentation, “Why Are Children Overweight?”
If Dr. Pretlow has made this point once, he has made it a hundred times: knowledge about healthful eating does not help much. Kids need to know this stuff, but given the current state of technology, all they really need to know is how to look it up. Yes, a bedrock of information is essential, and one function of any fitness device or application is to deliver specialized information in easily understandable form, to someone who needs it now.
Whatever the goal—weight loss of overall health improvement—data is key. At the same time, it is no panacea. To possess information is what might be called a necessary condition, but not a sufficient condition. Something else has to be added to the mix.
Schools can teach good nutrition in every grade, K-12, but there will still be obese children, and the reason is not theory-based, but utterly pragmatic. The thousands of kids who respond to the Weigh2Rock website have made it clear. Information about vitamins and calories is not what these kids need. They’ve had it up to here with statistics.
What Obese Kids Need to Lose Weight
Obese kids need the same things that adult addicts need: the motivation to become unhooked, and the tools for the job. Influencing motivation is tricky, because it is highly individual. Coerced motivation can break down at any time, for a number of reasons.
Even when extrinsic motivation is introduced more softly, it is still unreliable. A person who can be persuaded one way can subsequently be persuaded in another direction. To be effective, motivation has to be found inside a person, not grafted on from the outside. (We will say more soon about therapies designed to help people get in touch with their motivation.)
Meanwhile, tools are a different matter. Skills and techniques can definitely be taught in a coherent way. Techniques and skills are easily learned (although perhaps not easily mastered). There are ways to resist cravings, and ways to say “no” to oneself. There are ways of responding to sadness, boredom, and stress that do not involve food. There are ways to stop indulging in mindless, unconscious behaviors. Many life skills can be purposely acquired and eventually perfected, which is the mission of the W8Loss2Go smartphone app.
The Obesity Society, 2010
In the same month, October 2010, Dr. Pretlow could also be found (and seen and heard) at the Obesity Society’s 28th Annual Scientific Meeting. This major event for obesity professionals is…
…a forum for increasing knowledge, stimulating research, and promoting better treatment for those affected by this disease.
One feature of such gatherings is the opportunity to display graphic teaching aids called posters, including the one created by Dr. Pretlow, titled “Food Addiction in Children.”
That same busy month included a keynote address to the Women’s Sports Foundation in Washington state, an organization of whom Dr. Pretlow says, “They embraced the food addiction concept. They want to reach out to sad, isolated, obese kids… It was a good group.”
Your responses and feedback are welcome!
Image by Weigh2Rock