To Build Consensus

Readers will recall hearing about this virtual event, “Consensus Building Workshops on addiction-like symptoms related to consumption of certain foods.” It was created to persuade the World Health Organization “to include symptoms of addiction related to food, as a disease, in the International Classification of Disease, ICD-11.”

Childhood Obesity News also continued with a second post on the then-upcoming event. The purpose, as outlined in an internal preparatory document, “Introduction from the Facilitation Team,” was to define…

– what we know and can agree on about addiction symptoms as they relate to certain foods
– what we feel we know but can’t agree on, and
– where we need further research

The organizers outlined their concerns and observations about standard care, as currently understood and implemented. It appears that some vital elements are missing or ignored, and also that, in the area of food consumption, moderation therapy is ineffective.

This would seem to imply that some foodstuffs actually are literally addictive substances, a matter that is still rife with controversy. What happens if behavior is changed, but the psychological distress that caused it is still present? What if the person changes their eating habits but does not lose any weight? Also, there is a possibility that, without looking any further, doctors might tend to regard difficulties with the treatment as willful non-compliance.

Dr. Pretlow’s part

Dr. Pretlow’s 26-minute presentation is available online. In it, two fundamental questions are, “What should the disease be called?” and “Is the food the problem?”

The research organization NEUROfast seems not to care for the term “food addiction” because apparently, it implies that “food contains chemical substances that lead to development of Substance Use Disorder.” Well, is that proven to be not the case? It is hard to see this point of view, with all the evidence against, for instance, sugar. At any rate, one school of thought holds that “Eating Addiction” or “Addictive Eating Disorder” would be a more accurately descriptive name.

Others point out that not all foods are associated with addictive-like eating. (For some reason, many people particularly identify broccoli as characteristically non-addictive.) Dr. Pretlow mentions that the only behavioral addiction recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition is gambling disorder. (Some observers have remarked that, of all the addictions, gambling is probably the most unlike eating.)

Dr. Pretlow points out that while almost all binge eaters will go to town on whatever consumables are available, a relatively small number are more discerning. By this criterion, it sounds like the problem is the eating, and not so much the food. So it’s a sliding scale.

The presentation includes segments of interviews with, for instance, a young 400-pound fellow who admitted to having mistakenly believed that he was in control of his eating; that he was making the decisions. He eventually realized, “It was like an addiction almost. I had to.” This same patient poetically described his illness as being “consumed by consuming.”

(To be continued…)

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Introduction from the Facilitation Team,” by Dr. Pretlow
Image by Pat Hartman

Selling Crap to Kids, Part 4

Ten years ago, Landon Hall interviewed Margo Wootan, who was Director of Nutrition Policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, and who opined that…

[K]ids used to eat what their parents ate. But the trend in recent years is for kids’ tastes to rule the family dinner table as well. Too often, that means chicken nuggets, hot dogs, pizza or something else from that fat-and-carb family of foods… Changing this idea of what is a kid’s meal is crucial to solving child obesity. You can’t solve obesity if kids’ food is mostly junk.

The situation has not changed favorably since then. Should parents shoulder the blame? Actually, no. According to many experts, all the shame belongs to the food industry, which single-handedly invented the notion that children are entitled to have their “own foods,” and then sold the idea to kids and, unfortunately, even to some parents.

In January of 2014, Sean Poulter reported that according to the Food Standards Agency,

Nine in ten items at the check-outs of supermarket convenience stores would be considered ‘very unhealthy.’

The writer accused retail stores of being acutely aware of, and using, “pester power” (sometimes known as “nagging beyond endurance”). A display of chocolate never fails to trigger a barrage of whining, especially if the product is strategically placed in a low line of sight appropriate to humans age 3 to 5. He quoted Dr. Jason Horsley who said,

Youngsters […] will see something, want it and have a tantrum if they don’t get. It depends how brave the parent is as to whether they buy it or not.

We can’t show a direct correlation between these displays and rising obesity. But we can say that supermarket check-outs selling junk food, making it cheap and readily available, are not going to reduce the nation’s obesity.

At that point in history, the average American child was absorbing around 16,000 TV commercials per year, a great many of them featuring food — and not good food. But even if all the offerings had been supremely healthful, an increasing number of adults were ideologically opposed to the audacity the industry showed in presuming to deal directly with children.

Journalist Bruce Watson quoted a British source, Ian Barber, who pontificated thusly:

Advertising becomes a proxy for complaints about particular companies, brands or products. Advertising isn’t the issue. The sort of advertisements that children see is the issue. But then you get into a very objective debate about how people feel about certain brands or services.

That incoherent declaration came, by the way, from the communications director of the Advertising Association in the U.K., and it doesn’t even make a lick of sense. Angry outbursts from parents and health professionals are anything but objective. They are, in fact, the epitome of subjectivity. People have strong personal convictions about this sort of thing, which tend to show. But those corporate types are so accustomed to spouting nonsense, they don’t even recognize it when it pours out of their own mouths.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “When did kids start to eat apart from adults?,”, 12/17/13
Source: “Supermarkets accused of using ‘pester power’,”, 01/24/14
Source: “The tricky business of advertising to children,”, 02/24/14
Images by Jeff Boulter, Marco Verch Professional, Joe Shlabotnik/CC BY 2.0

Selling Crap to Kids, Part 3

We are still wallowing in a topic so controversial, it has been newsworthy for decades. A little over 10 years ago, Susan Linn and Michele Simon wrote:

Marketing to children does not get First Amendment protection because it is inherently misleading. If a young child cannot even understand the purpose of an ad, then marketing anything to that child is both unfair and deceptive.

At around the same time Simon, a public health attorney and advocate for plant-based foods, framed one of the moral issues. In protecting children’s health, is encouraging the food industry to market healthful food to kids important, necessary, or even ethical? She wrote,

[I]f the only issue was marketing fruit and vegetables to kids and if the only people engaging in such tactics were parents, I would be far less concerned. But let’s not confuse well-meaning adults trying to get kids to eat right with profit-driven multi-national corporations targeting children to hook them on a lifetime of consumerism.

In the same year, the journal Health Education published the results of a study of child-oriented food advertising. The uncredited piece about it from said that “Health-related messages in food advertisements targeting children” was the first document to scrutinize not just the health messages conveyed by ads, but the actual content and virtue of the foods they referred to and promoted. Here is the problem, or one of them anyway:

[I]t may actually be the advertising techniques… that are being changed in response to concerns… It found that health messages which appear in foods marketed at children do not necessarily indicate their nutritional value. Conversely, these health-related messages were frequently found to be used to promote unhealthy foods to children, and were mostly likely to appear in commercials for fast foods, sugared cereals and salty snacks.

In other words, instead of doing the right thing, the industry engaged in some fancy bait-and-switch machinations, no more honest than a traditionally rigged carnival ring-toss game. The new method is, in fact, even worse, because it takes advantage of the trusting nature of children and their often deep, if sometimes well-camouflaged, desire to do the right thing.

Children, like adults, perceive products more positively when they are presented with a health message, and exposure to food advertising is linked, not only to their dietary preferences and food selections, but to their understanding and beliefs about nutrition.

Is that devious, or what?

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “The Dark Side of Marketing Healthy Food to Children,”, 06/17/13
Source: “Is a Nutritionism Approach to Marketing to Children the Best We Can Do?,”, 06/26/13
Source: “Can childhood obesity be linked to clever marketing tactics?,”, 10/01/13
Image: Domain

Selling Crap to Kids, Part 2

Moving on to 2013 and the further depredations visited upon the trusting nature of children… A University of Liverpool study, published in The Journal of Pediatrics, showed that “celebrity endorsement of a food product encourages children to eat more of the endorsed product.” Pretty much everybody knew that already, but it is always reassuring to have academic confirmation. At the time, former soccer player/current TV sports commentator Gary Lineker had been speaking commercially for Walker’s Crisps for almost 20 years.

The study demonstrated, for the first time, that the influence of the celebrity extended even further than expected and prompted the children to eat the endorsed product even when they saw the celebrity outside of any actual promotion for the brand.

The researchers discovered that even when famous people appear on TV in a different capacity than the one that children usually see them in, the kids will still identify stars with the snacks they promote, and consume more of the stuff. In other words, the association would carry over from a familiar context to a different one. And by extrapolation, it appears that the more famous the celebrity is, the more detrimental their influence is to the eating preferences of kids.

Genre of deception

Then, there are the devious advertising gambits that play on children’s weaknesses, like their drive to conform, fit in, and be accepted. What do most kids love? Cartoon characters and other easily recognized imaginary media figures. The food industry got into the habit of using those characters to market allegedly healthful products to the kids, who would in turn nag their parents to put those brightly colored packages in the shopping cart. Susan Linn and Michele Simon wrote,

For young children, branding even trumps taste. Preschool children report that junk food in McDonald’s packaging tastes better than food in plain wrapping — even if it’s the same food. Similar studies show the same results for food packaging featuring media characters.

And is it okay to use beloved cartoon characters to sell organic, totally non-harmful food? Well, if it works, why not? But does the end justify the means? Don’t lies always lead to more lies?

Some advocates argue that deceiving children to eat healthy food is a good strategy. But such tactics are actually harmful. A primary goal for advocates should be for children to develop a healthy relationship to food. Foisting character-branded products on children undermines that effort.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Celebrity endorsement encourages children to eat junk food,”, 03/08/13
Source: “The Dark Side of Marketing Healthy Food to Children,”, 06/17/13
Images by Kulasekaran Seshadri, theilr, Kari Salomon/CC BY-SA 2.0

Selling Crap to Kids, Part 1

Let’s go back a little over 10 years to when, for Ad Age, Maureen Morrison reviewed (what were then) the previous 30 years of efforts to ban advertising aimed at children. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was upset about sugar back in 1978, and the concern was tooth decay. How quaint was that, compared to the multiple possible sugar-related worries that now assail parents?

To the breakfast cereal industry, the scrutiny was annoying but not threatening. Manufacturers renamed products, like from Sugar Crunchie-Munchies to Honey Crunchie-Munchies, and patted themselves on the back. The FTC kind of gave up. After that, something happened every decade or so.

Morrison wrote,

[A] aside from the 1990 Children’s Television Act (which in part limits the amount of time broadcasters can devote to ads in children’s programs) and the 1998 Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act (which deals with parental consent and data collection), self-regulation is still the order of the day in adland.


Like many other myths, rumors of the existence of self-regulation have persisted throughout the years. As in many other areas of life, like local police forces, for instance, self-regulation in the food biz is a joke. In 2012, about one-third of American children and teens were already overweight or obese. A contemporary news article recounted how cereal companies aimed their advertising in two streams: the less nutritious products were pitched to children, the more nutritious ones to parents.

In that year, the giants (General Mills, Kellogg, and Post) spent “an average of $156 million per year in marketing children’s cereals.” Check this out:

The cereals that were promoted to children, had 85 percent more sugar, 65 percent less fiber, and 60 percent more sodium.

The Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity was busy that year. A study by Kelly Brownell and Jennifer Harris verified the astonishing fact that given the choice, kids prefer high-sugar cereal to the low-sugar variety. In addition, they learned that, when giant corporations invest part of their earnings in the careers of various politicians, strange things can happen. They also ran up against the topsy-turvy world of corporate logic, which is about as valid as fatlogic.

They ‘splained it to us

The companies, in their wisdom, and led by General Mills and Kellogg, claimed that children simply will not eat breakfast cereal unless it is highly sweetened. Well, even if that is so… perhaps they could just leave the addition of sugar to the parents. And maybe parents could simply opt against sugar. What is a two-year-old going to do about that? Starve? Ride a skateboard to the corner store? Order from Amazon?

Also in 2012, The Journal of Pediatrics published the results of a small study undertaken by the University of Missouri. The researchers used MRI technology to scan the brains of young teens who were shown equal numbers of food product logos and non-food logos, from which they learned that children who are already obese are more vulnerable than normal-weight children to the blandishments of TV food ads.

Ryan Jaslow reported for CBS,

The study authors say companies spend more than $10 billion annually on food and beverage advertisements to children, while 98 percent of those products that make it to television are high in fat, sugar or sodium.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Is Ronald McDonald the new Joe Camel?,”, 04/23/12
Source: “Cereal Makers Spend $156 Million to Get Kids Hooked on Sugar,”, 06/26/12
Source: “Sugar Rush: Why We Can’t Trust Cereal Companies to Self-Regulate,”, 06/22/12
Source: “Obese kids more susceptible to food advertisements, brain scan study suggests,”, 11/30/12
Images by Hamish Darby, Will Keightley, Javcon117/CC BY-SA 2.0

Displacing the Displacement, Continued

In “Reconceptualization of eating addiction and obesity as displacement behavior and a possible treatment,” Dr. Robert Pretlow and Suzette Glasner wrote about displacement behavior that it is thought to happen when two drives oppose each other, leading to “the rechanneling of overflow brain energy to another drive (e.g., feeding drive).” This conflict generates overflow energy, and displacement activity gives it someplace to go, even if the activity is irrelevant to the case, and ultimately futile in solving anything.

Case in point: The person who wants to leave a marriage will not accomplish anything good by the displacement behavior of eating to the point of obesity. It does not make staying any better, because the partner will be even more unhappy with an obese husband or wife than they were before. It doesn’t make leaving any more viable, because an obese divorced person will find it even more difficult to find a new partner, or possibly even become gainfully employed.

Normal is good

Displacement behavior is a normal behavior or drive that occurs out of context and fulfills the common understanding that the conflicting drives are rechanneled to some activity that is “most readily available at the time or is most commonly used in the animal’s repertoire.” Displacement activity provides a temporary fix at best. The person might feel a little better for a short time, but it is certainly not a cure for anything.

If the rechanneled behavior becomes destructive, it is possible for the individual to consciously rechannel the overflow mental energy to a nondestructive behavior. Examples are rechanneling to breathing behavior (by taking slow, deep breaths), rechanneling to squeezing the hands, and rechanneling to hobbies.

This opens up a huge area of possibility. Rechanneling a displacement activity into another displacement activity instead is not an ultimate cure but can be extremely helpful, and certainly preferable to the destructive, false relief afforded by consuming a bag of chips. Displacing the displacement can offer some breathing space, and if not a cessation of the problem, at least a stasis point, a way of dealing with the overflow mental energy that does not cause more destruction but offers a stalemate, a pause in the hostilities.

Doubt and reassurance

A person addicted to eating might scoff, “How is a hobby going to help?” But latching onto an absorbing interest or activity, while it may not actively constitute betterment, at least does not lead to worsening. Stasis may not in itself improve the basic problem, but is a place to put that overflow mental energy while improvement can be achieved by other means.

This is where the BrainWeighve suggestions for distraction are useful. They may only create temporary relief, but that is better than no relief at all. More importantly, temporary relief creates space for more substantial and permanent relief solutions to be implemented.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Reconceptualization of eating addiction and obesity as displacement behavior and a possible treatment,”, 06/22/22
Image by Daniel Lobo/CC BY 2.0

Displacing the Displacement

“I need a drink” is probably one of the most frequently heard statements in the language, and the reason why a person feels the “need” for a drink is to eradicate stress.

Of course, many other substances can offer the illusion of serving the same purpose. With heavy downers, the person can zone out or pass out, and avoid experiencing stress — or any other sensation — for many hours at a time. With uppers or stimulants, like amphetamines, the person can create so much busyness and so many superficial distractions, that the original causes of stress are buried under a ton of pointless activity.

Maintaining a habit is, in itself, quite stressful. Where to get the stuff, how to pay for it, hiding the habit from others, quieting their suspicions, concealing the physical deterioration that inevitably follows, pretending to try to quit when a true intention is totally absent — all these activities and situations are very stressful too. For someone to discover that substance use actually exacerbates the very problems they hoped to escape can be a crushing disappointment that unavoidably leads to an even worse place.

Going nowhere

Not surprisingly, eventually it all catches up, and a heavy price is demanded. When the supposedly stress-alleviating addiction takes hold, there are consequences — like academic failure, job loss, divorce, bankruptcy, physical deterioration, endangerment of others, arrest, criminal charges, public shame, alienation of friends and family members, and so forth — all of which serve to just pile on the pressure and the suffering. And that is the inescapable “catch-22” of it all. Addiction inevitably causes even more problems and more stress.

Obesity gets involved because eating is one of the most obvious and available displacement behaviors. Eating, sleeping, and grooming are all natural drives, and useful and beneficial activities, until they are not. Picking bugs out of the hair is fine; pulling out the hair itself is taking things too far. A normal amount of sleep is necessary for health; sleeping 12 hours a day to escape a challenging life situation is obviously counterproductive.

Consuming enough calories to keep the body operating at peak functionality is obviously desirable; but when it’s a displacement behavior, and no longer a reasonable response to a natural, healthy drive, then eating is a problem.

Personal situations

For young people, school is one of the most frequent and obvious sources of stress. For older people, the big problem is often the job, or the lack of a job, and either one can make a person feel desperate and push them to look for something, anything, that will alleviate the misery.

And then, there are personal relationships. Often in a marriage, one partner realizes that the status quo is untenable. But like an animal faced with the choice between “fight or flight,” the person realizes that neither leaving nor staying can promote their well-being. If they leave, they will be broke and lose their kids. If they stay, they will be wretched.

(To be continued…)

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Image by x1klima/CC BY-ND 2.0

Feed the Enthusiasm, Part 2

Many people experience “food noise.” For others, it isn’t even that conscious, but just a primitive instinct that commands, “See that thing over there? Lunge at it. Take it down. Eat it.” Sometimes the food noise voice sounds more like a motivational speaker: “Within the next half hour, you can and will consume an entire package of cookies.”

Is this from a psychological, symbolic of a feeling of emptiness? Sure, why not? That’s a mental condition, caused by the brain grasping at straws to do something other than confront the insoluble problems of life. There is a colorful old expression: “I didn’t know whether to ____ or go blind.” A person often feels like that when they don’t know whether to fight, flee, freeze, feed, fornicate, fool around, fidget, or faint.

A paper written by Robert Pretlow, M.D., and Suzette Glasner, Ph.D., says,

Theoretically, the displacement mechanism functions by rechanneling overflow mental energy to another behavior… If the rechanneled behavior becomes destructive, it is possible for the individual to consciously rechannel the overflow mental energy to a nondestructive behavior.

“Food noise” — is it overflow mental energy wanting to be displaced by eating? Sure, for some people, some of the time.

For many of us when experiencing a problem, “Eat it into submission” is the answer. We are the lucky ones, because food consumption has much greater societal acceptance than “Beat it into submission.” Fortunately, most of the time, the people who experience violent impulses do not obey them. Those of us who respond to stress by merely putting on pounds are relatively lucky. Our morbidly obese bodies may be cumbersome to lug around, but we probably will not go to jail — not for that, anyway.

Now, to reward ourselves for not being as bad as cold-blooded killers — let’s go have lunch!

Say whut?

When it comes to holding absurd beliefs and making up rationalizations for our own less-than-admirable behavior, the human brain is endlessly inventive. As the great Lewis Carroll wrote, “Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” Massive, life-altering revelations can be remarkably formative, depending on a person’s willingness to honor certain conventions. Short-term distractions can help, too, as an intermediate step toward mastering our tendency to consume.

Small steps and little actions can work wonders. The BrainWeighve smartphone app has an area called the Distractions Jar, which offers suggestions for temporary relief. The manual says,

The difference between distractions and rechanneling activities is that distractions may not use up overflow mental energy. For example, watching TV is a distraction but does not use up overflow mental energy and won’t help you with an urge to eat. Doing something that engages your mind, like drawing a picture or shooting hoops, will use up overflow mental energy.

The many short-term relief suggestions include taking deep breaths, squeezing fists, walking or jogging, playing with a pet, fiddling with a fidget toy, listening to calming music or white noise, digging in a garden, carving wood, manipulating clay, stretching, and calling a friend. Other participants who use the BrainWeighve app also add ideas for short-term habit avoidance, and of course you too can offer helpful suggestions to others.

People are a lot like the Rat Park experimental subjects. As it turns out, if rodents have some agreeable activity on hand, other than consuming drugs, they quite often will do that other thing instead.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Reconceptualization of Eating Addiction and Obesity as Displacement Behavior and a Possible Treatment,” 06/22/22
Image by U.S. Army DEVCOM/CC BY 2.0

Feed the Enthusiasm, Part 1

One of the greatest feelings in the world is to become absorbed in some activity for a few minutes, and then realize you’ve been so wrapped up in it, and an hour or more has passed. That forgetfulness of the world and the self is, at minimum, a painless interval, and at most, a rewarding spell in which you’ve actually achieved or learned something. Finding a passion can save a life.

“Smile, when your heart is breaking…”

For some people in show business, the constant access to free drinks and easily available hard drugs is their downfall. But for others, practicing their art can be the thing that makes all the difference to their mental health. Like fly fishing, mechanical dexterity, or learning to play the drums, performance art is a way to satisfy a certain drive.

That drive might be described as the need to escape from an untenable circumstance. Even an amoeba knows to avoid pain. To entertain a room is certainly an improvement over fighting, running away, or other available displacements. Telling jokes to strangers can even help a person maintain their sobriety for decades.

Standup comedians Joe List and Greg Fitzsimmons agree that making a commitment to get up on stage, and then following through, can pull them out of a depressive funk. Stage time is somehow the “fix,” even if neither the comic nor the audience happens to be at the top of their game. Using an evocative and appropriate metaphor, Fitzsimmons says, “Even if you bombed, at least you got the needle into your arm.”

Positive displacement

Musician/comedian Gary Mule Deer was simultaneously addicted to cocaine and gambling for about 20 years. He told interviewer Marc Maron, “When I came out of rehab, I needed a new addiction, and needed to walk off the weight I’d put on… Golf saved my life.” While pursuing that fresh interest and challenging skill, Mule Deer met one of his heroes, the singer Smokey Robinson, who invited him to raise money for charity by participating in celebrity golf tournaments. Consequently, Mule Deer met many other people he held in great esteem, from several fields of endeavor. These friendships helped him to further his career as an entertainer, and granted him a new lease on life.

Full of surprises

Fortunately, a person who is trying to shake a habit may work on the underlying problems through whatever means are available — individual therapy; 12-step programs; spiritual practice; conscientious action plans; vision boards — people are different and they can be helped by different things. But one thing that helps anybody is finding higher-quality, productive, creative, attractive, meaningful displacements that give them a chance to use their skills and competencies, and that bring out the best in them.

(To be continued…)

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Fitzdog Radio #994,”, 02/15/22
Source: “Episode 1458 Gary Mule Deer,”, 08/03/23
Image by Chic Bee/CC BY 2.0

Nurture the Enthusiasm, Part 2

In “Reconceptualization of eating addiction and obesity as displacement behavior and a possible treatment,” Dr. Pretlow wrote,

Displacement behavior is a bio-behavioral mechanism that allows an animal to deal with situations that cannot readily be faced nor avoided, or that are thwarting. It may explain compulsive overeating (eating addiction).

[A]bstinence is not a feasible or appropriate treatment goal. Accordingly, understanding and targeting the behavioral and psychological precursors to compulsive eating behaviors is essential as a means of facilitating control over food intake to mitigate obesity.

When the BrainWeighve smartphone app was being developed, 14- to 18-year-olds tested it out. Among other things, they learned to identify life situations they couldn’t avoid but also couldn’t face, and went on to develop action plans to address each situation. Dr. Pretlow reported that participants “found the displacement component to be understandable and user-friendly.”

Most of the young people who tried out the app used the “Dread List” feature, and collectively came up with 90 dread situations that were fueling their displacement-based overeating. Guided by the app, they developed action plans to cope with their “dread situation” problems.

The conclusion was that “The displacement mechanism may be a useful basis for treatment of eating addiction and obesity and may provide individuals with hope that they can curb their addiction without relying on willpower to not overeat.”

This next quotation is from Dr. Pretlow’s “The displacement mechanism: a new explanation and treatment for obesity“:

In addition to dealing with the sources of the displacement, it also is possible to replace the displacement with another displacement that is less destructive.

And as long as there is any amount of destructive-type energy hanging around, the second meaning of displacement is to get something else to put in place of whatever it is we’re unproductively doing now. Twelve-step programs encourage service as an activity.

So, do a good deed for somebody, or do a good deed for yourself — play the drums, fix the alternator, or go fly-fishing. Just do something, persist with it, and get different voices going inside your head other than that tedious, everlasting “food noise” or nicotine noise, or booze noise, or whatever your particular weakness is.

This is just the beginning. A non-harmful displacement behavior is so much more than that. Sometimes, it’s the thing you always wanted to do and never had the courage to undertake. It could be a thing you never heard of before, and would not have encountered if you hadn’t mistakenly followed the false path first. Any person who has found a non-harmful displacement behavior to keep them sober, or to prevent them from ever falling into addiction in the first place, is a winner.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Reconceptualization of eating addiction and obesity as displacement behavior and a possible treatment,”, 06/22/22
Source: “The displacement mechanism: a new explanation and treatment for obesity,”, 07/31/20

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Profiles: Kids Struggling with Weight

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The Book

OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

Food & Health Resources