A Selection of Dr. Pretlow’s Conference Presentations

ECO  1910

The reader will enjoy Dr. Pretlow’s account of his experiences at the 2009 ECOG  scientific meeting, where he conducted a plenary session and introduced the idea that the childhood obesity epidemic is caused by emotionally driven comfort eating, which often results in addiction. This idea was based, he explained, “on the anonymous posts of thousands of overweight and obese kids on my open-access website over the past 10 years.” He was referring, of course, to the children and teens who had communicated with his team via the Weigh2Rock website.

At the time, almost the entire medical profession was united in believing that the idea of food addiction, especially when applied to children, was provocative, sensationalistic, and inflammatory. (Spoiler alert: in the intervening years, largely because of Dr. Pretlow’s work, the concept has become much more widely accepted.)

2010: Uniting Against Childhood Obesity

In April of 2010, at the Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, Dr. Pretlow’s 55 minute plenary session presentation was titled “What’s Really Causing the Childhood Obesity Epidemic – What Kids Say.” At that gathering, he met the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services. Dr. Pretlow suggested that the Department might benefit from asking kids exactly which foods caused them the most difficulty, in terms of being unable to either moderate their consumption or to stay away from those foods. If the government were to try regulating foods responsible for the obesity epidemic, those would logically be the ones to choose first. But the official was not interested.

Dr. Pretlow, of course, already knew a great deal about problem foods, having polled the Weigh2Rock participants. Potato chips are one of the most addictive foods for kids, and the work of other researchers has confirmed that the same is true of grownups. However, it is unlikely that the government will attempt to regulate potato chips like tobacco any time soon.

2010: Royal College of Physicians National Obesity Forum

October of 2010 took Dr. Pretlow to London for the Royal College of Physicians National Obesity Forum and a 22-minute plenary session presentation called “Why Are Children Overweight?” In that talk he explored the question of why kids overeat even though they hate to be fat, and hypothesized that binge eating might be an amalgam of comfort eating and displacement activity. He pointed out that knowledge about healthful eating, though extensively available, is not of much use to the young. What they really need is help in acquiring skills to stop the cravings that lead them to gorge on those problem foods. Slide 50 of the presentation is a mind-blowing compilation of replies from the Weigh2Rock kids and teens, defining the problem foods hardest for them to resist.

Dr. Pretlow also affirmed that, just like a hard drug addict, a compulsive over-eater develops tolerance to preferred substances. Again, this idea was considered outlandish by many of the forum’s attendees. But the similarity is undeniable. One universal characteristic of addiction is that the person quickly reaches a point of diminishing returns, where more and more of the substance delivers less and less of a reward. Another section of the talk (Slide 42) went over the idea of the “childhood obesity perfect storm.”

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Beyond Fat Acceptance

Now this one is more me!A website called Experience Project contains a personal history titled “I Am Fat and Have Been Almost My Whole Life.” The writer describes herself as five-foot-three, 298 pounds, and 13 years old. Her day starts with 3 tubs of ice cream, then Mom cooks her breakfast: toast, eggs, beans, pancakes, and two each of bacon sandwiches and sausage sandwiches. Then, for a mid-morning snack, she eats 6 slices of bread and butter.

Her 9,500-calorie lunch consists of 60 chicken nuggets, 5 servings of fast-food french fries, 5 gigantic, multiple-pattied hamburgers, soda, and a milkshake. The afternoon snack is a dozen donuts, and the evening meal two 16-piece buckets of fried chicken with french fries. And then of course there are the evening snacks. The teenager says that each of her parents weighs 400 pounds, and the home contains two refrigerators.

We can only hope this letter is a hoax, but have a sinking feeling that it is all too accurate. Undeniably, there are people who call themselves “gainers” and this is exactly the type of diet a gainer would require. This type of person embraces the obese condition and makes an active effort to become even larger. Fat acceptance morphs into fat pride and then into fat worship, and the people who are into this lifestyle say they belong to the “gaining community.”

Social Media for Gainers

Gainers award each other moral support through a wide variety of discussion forums, dating websites and blogs (we will not offer links because we don’t want to encourage the practice). But it is worth noting that all the fat worship websites cited in a 2010 news article still prosper. Gainers will say things like, “The only thing I love more than being fat is getting fatter.”

One man describes his life path as “a battle for the bulge,” and another apologizes to his followers for not posting pictures and descriptions of his holiday meals because “I didn’t really get to eat that much on Christmas day.” One site requires registration to even sneak a peek, because there are “an increased number of ‘tourists’ on the internet these days, looking to treat people and their interests as zoo exhibits of sorts…”

But many glorifiers of obesity are all too happy to have their activities revealed and, especially, their likenesses admired by fans. They resent the stereotype of laziness applied to fat people, because they work hard at maintaining and selling their obesity. A page reports, for instance, that…

Donna Simpson, a 42-year-old mother… raises money for her weekly $750 food budget through a web site where men pay to watch her eat.

Ms. Simpson is not the only professional in that field. Katy Winter of the Daily Mail reported on 29-year-old Denver resident Gabi Jones, a deliberate gainer who has accumulated 620 pounds of body weight on purpose and who says:

I think fat is art and I’m a masterpiece in the making.

Ms. Jones fills her personal website with photos and videos of herself, which purportedly “thousands of men” pay to enjoy, while sending her messages:

I want to feed you and get you bigger and more beautiful and treat you like a goddess.

Her story contains many more disturbing details which do not bear repeating here. Perhaps even more disturbing is the fact that “gainerism” is not recognized as a separate illness, which it obviously is. Compulsive overeating and binge eating satisfy emotional needs even as they destroy physical health, but the weight gain is a secondary side effect to the eating. Overeating with the distinct and purposeful intention of becoming as obese as possible is not the same thing at all, but the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) does not contain a category of mental illness that recognizes “gainerism” as a pathology.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “I Am Fat and Have Been Almost My Whole Life,” Experienceproject.com, undated
Source: “Gainer blogs glorify obesity,” SMH.com.au, 04/16/10
Source: “The 600-pound woman who says: ‘I only want to get fatter!’,” DailyMail.co.uk, 10/03/14
Image by muffinn


Varieties of Fat Acceptance

Botero on Plaza de Santo Domingo

Fernando Botero Sculpture

The varieties of fat acceptance range from mild to extreme. In the realm of health and safely, obesity must be acknowledged as something that exists in society, and is likely to continue for some time. Take the crash test dummy, for example, a useful innovation that expresses a necessary form of fat acceptance that can save lives. This simulacrum of a human is not just a figure with limbs and a head, but a calibrated test instrument.

With such a tool, designers can measure what acceleration, impact, and other forces do to a human body, and help to maximize safety for the drivers and other occupants of motor vehicles. Until the relatively recent past, the heaviest available dummy represented a 170-pound human. A few months ago, one company kicked the technology up a notch by adding additional mass to a male figure:

The first of its kind, Humanetics’ Obese Crash Test Dummy is based on the measurements of a 273-pound person with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 35… The preliminary analysis confirms that the obese dummy’s seated posture translates further forward on the seat compared to a non-obese occupant and changes the seat belt positioning, thereby creating new challenges for effective restraint countermeasures and knee impact protection.

The Fat Studies Reader, written by Esther Rothblum and Sondra Solovay, suggests that obesity, like homosexuality, is a condition that places its victims in an unsought niche of identity politics. The results may not even be particularly dire, but people become labeled as something that they may not wish to claim as their primary identity. Female comedians and novelists, for instance, do not like to be relegated to a “woman” subcategory, but would rather be recognized only as comedians and novelists.

Since a gay gene was discovered, tolerance of homosexuality has increased. The argument this book seems to make is that the discoveries of various fat genes should inspire the same degree of tolerance and compassion, and the realization that obesity is no more a choice than homosexuality is.

Plus-Size Fashion and Fun

The fashion industry has introduced the Full Figured Entertainer of the Year Award. Only weeks ago, Sports Illustrated magazine made history by including a plus-size model in its annual Swimsuit Issue.

In two Southern California locations, a night spot called Club Bounce plays host to hundreds of people on the weekends, all BBWs (Big Beautiful Women), BHMs (Big Handsome Men) and FAs (Fat Admirers). The performers are big too, like a female quartet called the Glamazons. Plus-size partiers don’t skulk around in hipster black, but love to dress in brightly colored clothes. There seems to be a general feeling amongst the obese revelers that they are more real and honest than normal-weight people, and more than one woman has told the press, “I get hit on more now than when I was skinny.”

With or without mainstream approval, it looks as if a very high degree of fat acceptance is here to stay.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Crash Test Dummies,” Humaneticsatd.com, 2015
Source: “Women at Club Bounce are living large,” OCRegister.com, 08/21/13
Image by Erik Cleves Kristensen


Self-Image and the Formerly Fat

White Wedding

Sometimes, photographic images help to form people’s self-images, particularly around issues of obesity, but not always. Childhood Obesity News has looked at various strange relationships between people and their pictures. For the Good Men Project, Kimanzi Constable wrote of how he was first inspired to lose weight by his brother’s wedding in 2007. A tuxedo had to be special-ordered for him, and that was bad enough, but the real blow came when he saw the wedding pictures. He remembers:

I was appalled to see how big I looked. I cried myself to sleep that night. I woke up the next day determined to lose the weight.

Actor Corey Stoll, who played Rep. Peter Russo in “House of Cards,” was an obese teenager, with 310 pounds plastered onto a 6′ 2” frame. He lost 100 pounds for college, but has fluctuated a bit since then, and calls himself, “a fitness fanatic for a few months every year.” Stoll admits that he still sees a fat kid in the mirror. But he turns that liability into an asset by making it a tool of his trade:

I’m at peace with the fact that I have a certain degree of dysmorphia… No matter how successful I get, I’ll always have easy access to what it feels like to be that outcast, to feel separate, with that level of self-loathing. It’s not who I am now, but it’s there. And it’s never gonna go away.

But what about kids who are too young to know what a photograph is, or what the words “childhood obesity” mean? Remember the little Colombian girl who at the age of 10 months weighed as much as a kindergartener? Her slender, unemployed mother was at a loss to explain the baby’s sudden, freakish increase in size. Fortunately, earlier this year they connected with Gorditas de Corazon, an organization that specializes in helping children who experience unexplained and overwhelming weight gain.

At the moment, life in a caring medical environment represents normalcy. For a one-year-old, as long as Mom is on the scene, all is right with the world. With no basis for comparison, for all Juanita knows, her life is exactly the same as that of any other child. She may never have seen any of the newspapers, magazines or websites that have published pictures of her, and if she has, her brain is probably not ready yet to make the connection between the image and the body she lives in.

The Future for an Obese Infant

Now, imagine the trajectory of young Juanita’s life. What if her morbid obesity has an origin so obscure that no medical team, however dedicated, can change its course? Maybe she will grow up to be one of the most obese women on the planet. Or maybe one of the many possible co-morbidities will claim her life tragically early. But let’s make the optimistic prediction that the clinic will be able to help, and that in a few months or years, little Juanita will indeed be appropriately small and will not stand out in glaring contrast to her age mates.

Even with a best-case outcome, there will surely be annual checkups. At some point, the child will wonder why she, unlike her friends, has to show up for a bunch of medical tests every so often. Will her mother try to shield her from the knowledge that she was a world-wide celebrity before her first birthday? Would that even be possible? If Juanita attains and maintains a normal weight, what will her teen years and adulthood be like? How will it affect her to know that anyone with Internet access can retrieve numerous images of her as a notoriously fat baby?

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “7 Healthy Habits That Helped Me Lose 170 Pounds in One Year
GoodMenProject.com, 09/14/14
Source: “Heading ‘Strain’ cast, Stoll once was an outcast
DailyMail.co.uk, 07/09/14
Image by Photocapy

Images and Self-Image

Big Butts

Every day, knowingly or not, we meet up with people who used to carry around excessive weight, and who somehow figured out how to get rid of it. More importantly, they figured out how to make it stay gone. We meet them online too, in discussion groups and in the comment sections attached to articles. Very often, formerly obese people express a sentiment that is some variation of these words:

I look at old photos, and can’t believe how fat I was, and I never knew.

That seems like it should be an enormous clue. People don’t realize how big they are, not even when they see themselves reflected in a mirror. Sometimes a photo helps, not only in retrospect but in present time. To see a picture of oneself from the back can be a serious shock, because the mirror doesn’t show that part.

Another factor is that the world has changed so much over a short period. Many people reading this grew up in a time when pictures were taken twice a year, during summer vacation and the winter holidays. Then, because developing was expensive, the roll of film might be left in the camera for six months. When they were eventually printed, the photos were stuck into album page, and life went on.

On the other hand, others who read this page grew up with the technology that enabled them to constantly pose for pictures and to find their images captured, sometimes dozens of time per day, in candid shots.

In relation to self-awareness of being overweight, either scenario can be a problem. When photos were a relatively rare commodity, the information might just never “land” for a person. Conversely, it is also possible that over-familiarity with one’s own image, no matter how obviously obese, can have a dulling effect. Or perhaps some kind of magical thinking comes into play—“Sure, I was fat in that picture taken yesterday, but I’m a lot thinner now.”

Finding a Goal for Weight Loss

Photos can be problematic in other ways. A Reddit contributor expressed her concern with not knowing what goal weight to aim for, because she has never looked good at any stage of her life. Other women have reference points, like “I want to look like my prom photos,” or “I want to get back to how I was the first year in California.” Someone who has always been obese has no such golden-haloed landmarks.

Whether influenced by photos or not, people go through different stages of preparedness for weight loss. Another Reddit participant wrote:

While I have not really started my weight loss journey yet (I’ll be honest, I’m procrastinating big time on top of work and school), I have at least reached a point mentally where I’ve mostly stopped beating myself up for being fat.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “I’m a pe teacher who needs advice about a morbidly obese student,” Reddit.com, 01/28/14
Source: “Hello! HamPlanet Boogie2988 here,” Reddit.com, 10/28/13
Image by R4vi

Words from the Formerly Obese

At Play

It might be instructive to listen to someone who lost 140 pounds, 30 years ago, and sustained that loss. Such a person is self-described food addict William Anderson, a Licensed Mental Health Counselor who specializes in eating disorders, addictions, and weight loss. At his peak he strained the scales at more than 300 pounds. Since childhood, he had been trying reducing diets and what he describes as “scams.”

I tried that over and over and just couldn’t do it, so I was always vulnerable to these promises that I could skirt reality and some product would solve the problem for me… I know how those repeated failures crush your spirit and your belief that you can change things.

But then it gets confusing. Anderson also recalls how his doctor would say, “It’s a matter of diet and exercise,” and other people would assure him that all he needed was to make up his mind, and use determination and will power to follow through. The implication is that both these ideas contributed to his continuing inability to lose weight even though, presumably, he watched his diet and got some exercise. But then he goes ahead and describes body weight as a function of thermodynamics and energy balance:

Eat more calories than you need and you gain weight. Eat fewer than you need and you lose it. Do that sufficiently enough and you’ll lose as much as you want.

So it is all about diet and exercise. Don’t look for the magic bullet, because it doesn’t exist. Yes, there is an unavoidable necessity for a person to control his or her eating, which includes stuff like counting calories. But no, sheer will-power is not the answer. A person needs to put the work in, and learn techniques to get the job done. Anderson recommends behavioral therapy, of which his adaptation is “Therapeutic Psychogenics,” as described in his book The Anderson Method.

Obesity and Kids Today

Making one’s way in the world is never easy, and obesity makes everything more difficult. How much better it is when a person’s biography never has to include the words, “I fought obesity for 20 years.” Around here, we recommend that a child or teen use the W8Loss2Go smartphone app. We want to give them the tools to deal with obesity now, and definitively, so the journey to adulthood is not burdened and fettered by carrying extra weight. If these skills are utilized, they will work. Once learned, they will not be forgotten.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “4 Top Weight Loss Scams of the Year (So Far)
HuffingtonPost.com, 01/29/2014
Image by Kenneth Freeman

Fattitude Is On the Way


Consider Fattitude: A Body Positive Documentary. The jokes practically write themselves. “Heifer, I’m positive your body is fat!” When someone attempts to present obesity as a condition that is acceptable and maybe even desirable, the temptation for critics to take those take easy shots is only one of the drawbacks. Lindsey Averill and Viridiana Lieberman say.

Fat people are subject to discrimination everywhere they look. In children’s books and stories fat people are villains and bad guys. On our television screens and in the advertising world the fat body is a joke. Magazines and entertainment news shows fixate on the “fatness” of celebrities’ bodies…. We want to offer a counter argument to the current popular notions that condemn fatness in all forms.

The filmakers’ Kickstarter campaign raised $44,000 to make a feature-length documentary that “exposes how fat hatred permeates our popular culture, spreading the message that fat is bad and in turn forwarding the idea that being cruel, unkind or downright unjust to a fat person is acceptable behavior.”

Discrimination, mockery, hatred, cruelty, unkindness, vilification—of course none of these things is good. Neither is injustice, especially the kind that assumes people with extra body weight are “less than.” But the part about how current thinking condemns “fatness in all forms” is iffy. Some forms of fatness should be condemned. Not on a moral basis, and not with any claim that overweight people are bad. It’s a matter of health.

In reality, the fact that morbid obesity puts people at risk is beyond question. Without a doubt, there are forms of fatness that should definitely be avoided or, if it’s too late for avoidance, fixed. The filmmakers cite “the bulk of epidemiological evidence” as showing that being 5 pounds underweight is more dangerous than being 75 pounds overweight. This might be a case of overreach.

Apparently their ground-level premise is based on a meta-study led by Dr. Joel Ray of St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. The findings of this research, which encompassed 50 previous studies, were published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Public Health. For them to hold water, one first has to accept that the Body Mass Index is the most meaningful measure, which it may not be. Just for clarity, here is a chart showing what a 5’9” person’s BMI should be.

sample chartHealthday.com says:

Underweight patients of all ages (those with a BMI of 18.5 or under) were found to face a 1.8 times greater risk for dying than patients with a normal BMI (between 18.5 and 25.9)… By contrast, obese patients (those with a BMI between 30 and 34.9) face a 1.2 greater risk for dying than normal-size patients. Severely obese patients—those with a BMI of 35 or more—faced a 1.3 times greater risk.

People who are clinically underweight face an even higher risk for dying than obese individuals, the study shows… Compared to normal-weight folks, the excessively thin have nearly twice the risk of death…

First, this is not stated with an eye to maximum comprehension. We all face exactly the same 100 percent certitude of death. Many websites that mentioned this study neglected to mention that it is talking about the risk of dying prematurely, which is quite different from simply dying. Many writers implied that being a bit on the thin side is not only horribly dangerous, but that the problem is destined to increase. For Salon.com, Mary Elizabeth Williams pushed back by noting that the observed populations were also challenged by poverty, substance abuse, and suboptimal mental health. Moreover:

…while being underweight is a significant health risk, obesity and its often-fatal effects are still affecting a far broader population… But in the quest to improve public health, the consequences of obesity don’t need to be minimized to make a point about the dangers of being underfed. Just because we’re finally making some small inroads in the quest to stave off the health problems that come with obesity it doesn’t automatically follow that we’re setting ourselves up for a whole new raft of thinness-related ones.

By the way, Fattitude, although it has staked out an anticipatory IMDB presence, is still in production. Its Twitter page says “coming soon.”

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Fattitude: A Body Positive Documentary,” kickstarter.com, 2014
Source: “Underweight Even Deadlier Than Overweight, Study Says,” healthday.com, 03/28/14
Source: “Is being thin more deadly than being obese?,” salon.com, 03/31/14
Image by Fattitude


How to Cook and Eat with Kids

topher eggers

Toph Eggers

Dave Eggers is an American publisher, author, editor, philanthropist, and half a dozen other things. In 2005, Time Magazine named him one of the “100 Most Influential People.” In 2008, Utne Reader named him one of the “50 Visionaries Who Are Changing the World.”

At age 21, with both mother and father dead, Eggers was unexpectedly thrust into the role of parent to his 8-year-old brother Toph. This experience resulted in a “memoir with fictional elements” titled A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. Of course the original work contains many more lively details about how a young man and a child, both stunned with grief, managed to get through their days.

For “This American Life,” Dave Eggers described the routine, about a year into this new lifestyle. It’s not about weight being an issue, but about how they made the evening meal into a time of togetherness and communication. The message here is that an intact traditional family with two adult parents ought to be able to accomplish something at least as effective and meaningful.

Two Brothers Creating Meals

On school days, Toph would make his own breakfast and pack his own lunch, and several times a week dinner would be a collaboration. The older brother would say, “Hey, I need your help” and the younger would say “Okay.” Their repertoire was limited to 7 meals, rotated with “mathematical precision.” It might be stir-fried beef strips with soy sauce, in tortillas; ground beef and spaghetti sauce, in tortillas; grilled cheese sandwiches; or a couple of other standbys. Potatoes made an appearance, as well as apples and oranges.

Although the range was limited, there were vegetables—lettuce, baby carrots, celery, cucumbers, or green beans, always raw—and even a take-out pizza meal would include salad. It’s not a menu Dave Eggers necessarily recommends. The point is:

Sometimes we sing while we’re cooking. We sing regular words, words about pouring the milk or getting the spaghetti sauce or microwaving the tortillas, but we sing them in opera style. We can sing lots of different ways, but the opera style is pretty impressive. People have said so. Sometimes while cooking, we have sword fights with wooden spoons, or with the dowels that used to hold up the drapes.

Equally important:

Sometimes while we cook, he tells me about things that happened at school. “What happened today?” I ask. He gives me the full rundown, who’s a dork and who’s OK, what everyone wrote their papers on, the whole thing.

As for the set and setting, the brothers might eat in their dining room—unless the table was set up for ping pong. They might use the coffee table, unless it was already covered with books and other homework paraphernalia. Or they might have a picnic on the floor of Toph’s room and watch basketball on TV, or play a game of cards. Dave Eggers maintains that the kitchen table was usually clean and available, but “Where’s the fun in that?” Still, there were limits:

All meals are served with a tall glass of 1% milk with the gallon jug resting on the floor next to the table for convenient refills. Alternative beverages are not available. Anything not on the menu is not available. Any complaints will be handled quickly and with severity.

Or at least as much severity as a grieving young man could muster, to deal with a similarly traumatized sibling. Mock discipline was also part of an ongoing effort to keep things lively and minimize the opportunity for sadness. This meant that food was not just for eating:

I’ve stuck a half cantaloupe into his face. I’ve rubbed a handful of banana into his chest, poured a glassful of apple juice on his head…I’m making our lives a music video, a game show on Nickelodeon, with quick cuts, crazy camera angles, lots of fun, fun, fun. It’s a campaign of distraction and disinformation, leaflets dropped behind enemy lines, flares and fireworks, funny dances, shell games, magic tricks.

Again, the lesson here is that if a brother can make the evening meal a time of positive togetherness, a mature, grown-up parent is probably capable of doing the same.

P. S.

Toph Eggers grew up into an author and screenwriter who tweets under @topheggers. His Twitter slogan is, “Tight shirts show off my big heart.” He reportedly turned out okay, and recent photos show him eating what appears to be green food.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “You Gonna Eat That?,” ThisAmericanLife.org, 12/11/98
Image by McSweeneys.net

Cake Babies

baby eat cake search

A few years back, someone posted a video online that featured a toddler, still on the bottle and quite chubby, who smoked 40 cigarettes a day. It went viral, accumulating 27 million views and inspiring a huge number of disapproving comments as people strove to outdo each other in expressing their outrage.

Today, in a popular genre of YouTube clips, a baby in a high chair eats cake—most typically, an entire first birthday cake— and makes a big mess. The babies smear cake all over their hair, clothes, and immediate surroundings, and if the frosting is so garishly colored it seems to belong in a sealed hazardous waste drum, so much the better. They dive into the cake mouth-first, or stuff it in with both hands, while the adults on the sound track cheer them on.

Still photos are treasured too, and it might be said that the fashion for these graphics gives new meaning to the term “food porn.” Some of the videos attract millions of fans. (But then, the audience for zit-popping videos is also in the millions, so popularity should not be taken as an index of quality.) For a lot of these kids, it’s their first encounter with such a concentrated dose of sugar. They make funny faces, and the hilarity of the grownups knows no bounds.

A Cultural Obsession With Sugar

The images are deeply disturbing on many levels. Which kid will be the first to sue his parents for invasion of privacy, child exploitation, and a few other possible charges? Who will be the first to lose an election because her opponent dug up the old baby-meets-cake video? More importantly, with the knowledge we have now, these initiations could be seen as the moral equivalent of that cigarette-smoking toddler. In realistic, unsentimental terms, watching a baby go berserk over sugar is just about as cute as seeing a 10-year-old smoke crack for the first time. In other words, not very. But there is no worldwide gasp of outrage. Dr. Pretlow says:

Sugar addiction certainly is very real, and probably 2/3 of our country is addicted to sugar in one form or another. But it appears to be the sweet taste that is addictive (sensory addiction) rather than a direct effect of blood sugar on the brain. Else, that would imply that intravenously administered glucose is addictive, which it isn’t. Addicts don’t shoot up on glucose. Also, bulimics immediately purge the sweet food eaten, yet are still addicted. Thus, rising blood sugar from glycemic carbs, grains, etc. doesn’t seem to be addictive.

Few school-age kids eat cake all day, but an astonishing number switch their allegiance to soda and so-called energy drinks. Researchers have connected that habit with hyperactivity, ADHD, lousy report cards, difficult peer relationships, greater susceptibility to injuries, disruptive hormonal changes, increased cardiovascular disease risk, and a host of other poor outcomes in addition to obesity. Raw food advocate Lynn Griffith writes:

When discontinuing sugar from your child’s diet, your child may feel tired, light-headed, confused, experience shaking or weakness, tremors, headaches, depression, anger, nausea or even vomiting. These are all signs of sugar addiction and sugar withdrawal.

Just as babies don’t need to be persuaded to devour cake, older kids and adults need no encouragement to make sugar a staple of their diets. By and large, they do nothing to protest the current condition of things, as descried by Prof. Laura A. Schmidt of the University of California:

If you look at all packaged foods, 77 percent of them have sugar added to them. For example, it’s added to breads, it’s added to bagels, it’s added to ketchup, it’s added to salad dressing … Foods you think are quite savory tasting have sugar added to them. So it makes it very hard for the consumer to know when they’re getting too much sugar.

Sugar is the one thing nobody ever needs to worry about not getting enough of.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “33 Babies Devouring Their First Birthday Cake,” Buzzfeed.com, 06/18/14
Source: “Sugar, caffeine, and energy drinks linked to poor behavior in middle school
children!,” TheRawFoodWorld.com, 02/14/15
Source: “Too much added sugar can do you in,”Today.com, 02/03/14
Image by Google Search


Dr. Pretlow and Colleagues


Dr. Pretlow’s latest paper, “Treatment of Child/Adolescent Obesity Using the Addiction Model: A Smartphone App Pilot Study,” will soon appear in the highly-respected print publication Childhood Obesity and can also be found online. Today, let’s gain a better acquaintance with the team behind this estimable work, and give credit to their accomplishments.

Carol M. Stock received her Masters of Nursing degree from the University of Washington and her Juris Doctorate degree from Seattle University, which makes her both a Registered Nurse and an attorney. Among many other interesting professional experiences, Ms. Stock has specialized in Native American/Tribal Health Care and spoken at many health care conferences. She has taught at Northwest University and Seattle Pacific University, and is a principal of the consulting firm Carol M. Stock & Associates.

Dr. Stephen Allison (in some countries, the letters MBBS are used instead of MD) is a Fellow of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, and is currently Associate Professor of Child and Youth Psychiatry in the School of Medicine at Flinders University in Adelaide, South Australia. 47 of his publications can be found online.

Leigh Roeger, PhD, is a Senior Research Fellow in the Psychiatry Department, also at Flinders University. His expertise is in the mental health of children and adolescents, and among his interests are social network analysis and system dynamics modeling. 21 of his papers are available online, and his bio says:

Current projects include developing mHealth apps based on the Behavioural Activation approach for treating depression to improve outcomes in young people experiencing high levels of distress associated with chronic health conditions.

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow, a Princeton University honor graduate, went on to the University of Virginia Medical School for his MD degree. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and holds a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering. He founded eHealth International, Inc., and Weigh2Rock.com, a lively and innovative website for kids and teens.

More from Dr. Pretlow

All Childhood Obesity News posts are approved by Dr. Pretlow before publication, and here is a handy list of the posts he has personally written, plus a few extras.

Using the Psychological Food Dependence-Addiction Lens

Medical Science and Food Addiction

Medical Science and Food Addiction – Part 2

Childhood Obesity Conflicts of Interest

Ending Childhood Obesity Through Healthy Eating & Exercise?

Food Addiction and Childhood Obesity: Now What Do We Do?

The Weigh to Rock: A Nutritionist’s Guide Through Child Obesity

Obese Youth and Motivation

Food Supplements and Childhood Obesity (guest post at Fooducate.com)

Interview with Dr. Pretlow

Addiction to Highly Pleasurable Food as a Cause of the Childhood ObesityEpidemic: A Qualitative Internet Study

and of course the book –

Overweight: What Kids Say –What’s Really Causing the Childhood Obesity Epidemic

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Biography,” carolstock.com
Source: “Stephen Allison,” researchgate.net
Source: “Dr. Leigh Roeger,” flinders.edu.au
Image by Liebertpub.com

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