Paul Mason, Addict 2

After successfully losing a huge amount of weight thanks to the surgery, Paul Mason came to the States to have excess skin removed. He lived for a while with an American woman to whom he was briefly engaged, but in a later interview she related how he was unable to sustain interest:

Paul became bored of the Paleo diet that the couple had adopted. “I came home and there was a big loaf of bread in the refrigerator. We had an agreement that we were not going to tempt each other. I felt he wasn’t taking my feelings into consideration. In the weeks after, he went back to his old habits,” she told The Sun.

To persist in harmful behavior even when it ruins one’s closest relationships is the behavior of an addict. Journalist Justin Heckert wrote of Mason’s time in America,

He had arthritis in both knees… He was anemic. He took warfarin for blood clots and furosemide for the fluid in his legs. He took anti-depressants. He took sleeping tablets. He already wore dentures — because he used to be too big to go to the dentist, he had yanked out his old teeth with pliers when he was bedridden. To numb the pain, he filled syringes he bought off eBay with morphine the doctors had prescribed him for joint pain, and injected it directly into his gums.

Need it to be said? To pull out one’s own teeth, rather than address the elephant in the room, is definitely addict behavior. It encompasses the marker of spending a lot of time recovering from substance use, and definitely, putting oneself in danger. And how about this criterion?

Continuing to use, even when you know you have a physical or psychological problem that could have been caused or made worse by the substance.

Separated from his former fiancée, in 2018 Mason was still in the U.S., living with a female enabler who by his account was addicted to opioids. After being convicted of shoplifting, he told the press that his new landlady/hostess had threatened and intimidated him into obeying her wishes. He alleged that she would send him into the store with a list of items she wanted.

A journalist added that the world’s former heaviest man was caught with such items as cakes, steaks and pizzas. Not to put too fine a point on it, this is behavior typical of addicts.

By 2019 or so, the press referred quite confidently to Mason’s problem as an addiction. He was back in the United Kingdom, broke, and morbidly obese again. The Daily Mail published a salacious quotation:

He said that food gives him a great feeling and described it as being “better than sex”. You don’t choose this lifestyle. The addiction never goes away. You don’t conquer it. You can just keep it at bay. You know when you orgasm you get a really good strong sexual feeling? It’s like that, but contentment as well.

The British press reported on the shoplifting he had done in the USA, which seems to have been pretty extensive. He would eat as much in one meal as a normal person would in a week, but his go-to snack was crisps (potato chips), and another journalist referenced his eating 40 chocolate bars per day.

To reporter Adam Aspinall,

He opened up about his despair and his deep heartache that he has been shunned by his own family because of his selfish actions. He said: “I destroyed people’s lives through my eating, I tore our family apart.”

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Sex with World’s fattest man Paul Mason ‘great’ says ex — but he cheated on her with bread,” Archive.ph, 06/07/19
Source: “DSM 5 Criteria for Substance Use Disorders,” VeryWellMind.com, undated
Source: “How the World’s Heaviest Man Lost It All,” GQ.com, 03/07/17
Source: “Former world’s fattest man — who now weighs 40 stone — denies he is a scrounger,” DailyMail.co.uk, 05/27/19
Source: “World’s fattest man begs NHS to save his life with £100k weight loss surgery,” Mirror.co.uk, 09/29/19
Image by Duran/CC BY 2.0

Paul Mason, Addict 1

Formerly Fat, Latterly Lapsed 1” and the three subsequent posts trace the journey of the (previously) world’s fattest man from England to the USA and back to his homeland. In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, addiction criteria are grouped into four major areas: physical dependence, risky use, social problems, and impaired control. We will be checking in with them along the way.

In the early 1980s, Paul Mason had been romantically disappointed. He later told reporter Justin Heckert that his love affair with food started then:

It hit the back of your throat, and you’ve got that endorphin that’s released in your brain and that makes you feel good. I began to be just like a drunk.

In the late 1980s, before becoming housebound and famous for being fat, Mason worked for the British postal service, fed his gargantuan appetite by stealing cash from customers’ envelopes, and went to prison for a year. This is known as “Not managing to do what you should at work, home, or school because of substance use” and also, “Using substances again and again, even when it puts you in danger.” Locked up, he conducted himself with an addict’s ingenuity, trading bribes and favors for extra food.

His father died; he moved back in with his mother, and his dedication to eating began in earnest. He lived in bed, alternately eating and napping. Assistants were required to help with his elimination needs, and an expensive machine was needed to raise his body from the bed for cleaning and sheet changing. This would come under the diagnostic heading of “Giving up important social, occupational, or recreational activities because of substance use,” “Spending a lot of time getting, using, or recovering from use of the substance,” and several other criteria.

Writer Sarah Lyall later quoted him:

Food was an escape for me. It was like going to a different world, where you felt comfort.

Mason told the reporter that during that time he thought about literally nothing else except his next meal. He remortgaged his mother’s house to pay for his ever-increasing consumption of food, and lost the respect of his sisters. From the list, “Continuing to use, even when it causes problems in relationships.”

Eventually, a tabloid publication titled a piece about him, “The Man Who Ate His House.” Except, it wasn’t even his. Playing fast and loose with the money and property of others — even the closest loved ones — is a classic hallmark of addiction.

In 2017, Mason described to Heckert the condition he had been in almost 15 years earlier, when he had only weighed 800 pounds:

“I had a waistline of eight feet,” he said. “I was permanently lying down. I was six foot four, so my stomach was wider than I was high. I was in a bubble. I let all my dignity go; I just didn’t care. I was focused on food. That one thing.”

That lack of caring for anything but the substance of choice; that willingness to sacrifice not only dignity but every other factor that accounts for the quality of life, is characteristic of addiction. With both parents gone, Mason turned the corner and decided seriously to pursue weight loss surgery. He later told Lyall,

You dig yourself out of that escapism that surrounds you — I don’t know what word I would use, but it was like crack, really — and then you grasp at life.

The surgeon who did the 2010 operation, Dr. Shaw Somers, later reminisced about those times with Heckert. Speaking of Mason’s mental condition prior to his bypass surgery, Dr. Somers said,

His despair and psychological trauma — he didn’t see any way out. The only thing that gave him comfort in life was food. It was a drug of abuse, freely available, heavily marketed. I think that’s almost universal to people who get to that size.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “DSM 5 Criteria for Substance Use Disorders,” VeryWellMind.com, undated
Source: “How the World’s Heaviest Man Lost It All,” GQ.com, 03/07/17
Source: “Losing 650 Pounds, and Preparing to Shed a Reminder of That Weight,” NYTimes.com, 04/22/15
Image by Christian Flores/CC BY-SA 2.0

Paul Mason, Fat Kid

Formerly Fat, Latterly Lapsed 1” and the three subsequent posts trace the journey of the (previously) world’s fattest man from England to the USA and back to his homeland.

Paul Mason had not yet been authorized for gastric bypass surgery when in 2008 he attempted suicide by swallowing a large dose of codeine that should, by all rights, have been enough to do the job. Instead, he awoke the next morning with only a headache to show for it. The vast expanse of his gigantic body had absorbed the drug, apparently diluting it enough to keep it from doing real harm. He went into counseling, and for the first time revealed horrible details about his childhood.

So, here we look at one of the relevant subtopics, the Fat Kid Trope. In adulthood, many obese people recall similar traumas. In elementary school, the shy and awkward boy was picked on for being unusually tall, almost six feet at age nine. Journalist Justin Heckert wrote, “When he walked to class the other boys would climb on his back and try and tackle him to the ground.”

The young victim had friends, though — Pum and Joan, described by him as honest, normal schoolgirls who would patiently listen to his problems. He would meet with them by climbing up into a tree where they apparently lived. Yes, the friends were imaginary. The father, however, was all too real, and characterized by Heckert as an overweight “martinet who spent years in the army and military police.”

“I remember one Sunday mum cooking salad,” Mason said. “Mum had prepared a salad for all of us with some cold meat… He sat down and looked at the plate, and said, ‘What’s this rabbit food?’… He slammed his plate across the table and said, ‘I want my roast… She just started crying.”

Roy Mason, described by his son as “barbaric,” insisted that the boy and his two sisters use the same size plates as he did, and eat everything on them. In the old days, it was quite common to make children remain at the table until they ate what had been put in front of them, the despised food item growing colder, dryer, and more repulsive as the hours ticked by.

Roy had other uncivilized habits, like taking his young teen son to the videotape rental shop where he was forced to ask for porn movies by their embarrassing names. Then at home, Roy would make the boy sit and watch as he laughed derisively at the X-rated material.

But wait, it gets worse

This is Heckert again:

Mason, his parents, his two sisters, and an aunt lived in a middle-class house… There weren’t enough beds in the house, so he shared one with his aunt. He says she would come home drunk and climb in the bed with her breath on his neck and touch him, and that lasted for three years…

There have been many cases where adolescents, both girls and boys, have purposely cultivated body fat in order to discourage improper advances from adults of the same or the opposite sex.

In a 2015 interview, Mason told New York Times journalist Sarah Lyall the same ugly history:

He attributes his former obesity to a combination of things: a cruel father who beat and verbally abused him and his mother; a female relative who sexually abused him as a child for years; and classmates who ridiculed him to the point where school was a torment.

All in all, there was no comfort or safety to be found either at school or at home. Attention should probably be paid to these details, by parents who have no ambition to raise the next World’s Fattest Man.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “How the World’s Heaviest Man Lost It All,” GQ.com, 03/07/17
Source: “Losing 650 Pounds, and Preparing to Shed a Reminder of That Weight,” NYTimes.com, 04/22/15
Image by Anderson Mancini/CC BY 2.0

Dental Health Awareness is Crucial — United Kingdom

The USA is not the only nation whose military leaders are concerned about the problem described in the previous post. As one typical example, the French Military Health Service reported that dental emergencies accounted for 24.2% of all medical evacuations during an operation in Mali.

Childhood Obesity News has previously discussed dental health in the United Kingdom, but not in relation to military readiness, and the situation only worsens over time. As of a 2018 report, during the pertinent year more than 26,000 children ages five to nine were treated in hospitals because of rotten teeth. Note: These were only 5- to 9-year-olds.

The United Kingdom Armed Forces, just like their American counterparts, take dental health very seriously. A report on defense dentistry notes that “the impact of oral disease on service personnel serving on operations has been well documented and can substantially disrupt operational capability.” The authors back up this assertion with six footnotes, and many more references would no doubt be available, had they chosen to cite them also.

The U.K. has developed a preventive-focused, holistic program that addresses alcohol, tobacco, diet, and weight management. Of course, obesity and dental disease often coexist in the same individuals, and just like the U.S., Britain’s realm is eminently interested in sustaining operational capability and maximizing effectiveness.

This means minimizing dental morbidity. The details state that clinical decision-making is…

[…] focused on the patient’s occupational role and the environment in which they will operate. Considers factors such as the duration, remoteness and austerity of the deployment. A responsive uniformed dental workforce with strong individual and collective leadership ethos […] can move assets between locations and adapt quickly to rapidly changing situations in both UK and overseas bases and in operational environments.

The officers in charge have to consider what conditions the patient will be living in, and whether they will be able to keep up correct oral hygiene, and/or aftercare appropriate to any dental work that has been done. If an emergency flared up, how long would the service member be away from their post to receive the needed care, and who would fill their role in the military operation? How would they be transported, and what would be the risks to both the patient and the mission? What effect would any prescribed medications have on the patient’s ability to function effectively?

The relevance of dental problems, of course, is that they so often coexist with obesity, creating a two-faceted health dilemma for large numbers of both civilian and military personnel.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Britain’s sugar obsession sees number of children going to hospital with rotten teeth rise to 26,000,” DailyMail.co.uk, 09/25/18
Source: “Defence dentistry: an occupationally focused health service with worldwide deployable capability,” NIH.gov, 2021
Image by NATO/CC BY-SA 2.0

Dental Health Awareness Is Crucial — USA

This post dives a little deeper into the topic of childhood obesity in relation to a country’s military preparedness.

Obviously, juvenile obesity too often develops into adult obesity. Another aspect is very much worth exploring. Obesity and poor dental health walk hand-in-hand. They have a reciprocal relationship. Each causes, and is caused by, the other.

Even when a tooth remains present in the mouth, a crack, cavity, or infection may render it useless, along with all the other teeth on that side. A person might go for years, doing all their chewing on the “good side,” which is not beneficial to the good teeth on the bad side, which do not get enough stimulation to keep their blood supply flowing properly. As time goes by, one-sided chewing can lead to disorder of the temporomandibular joint, and other jaw malfunctions.

The past

A poor diet with a lot of sugar can cause teeth to fall out or to need removal. This in turn causes
more deplorable dietary habits like a preference for fizzy sweet beverages, yogurt, and ice cream. Many hyperpalatable, high-calorie foods are easy to ingest with minimal teeth. But it is very difficult to gain sustenance from the most health-retaining foods with painful or missing teeth.

Tooth loss does not favor the ingestion of most meats, for instance. It destroys the ability to bite into an apple or crunch a carrot. Lettuce is a struggle, and celery is impossible. Even if a recruit loses weight and stays fit, the damage to teeth remains and worsens. How does this impact the individual’s fitness for military service? If the enlisted person or officer is stationed in the field, doing an essential job, and an urgent medical condition arises so that they need to be med-evaced, that will divert considerable resources from the mission.

In the USA, candidates are ineligible for military service if they fail to meet certain educational standards, are involved in crime, or are physically unfit. Even more than a decade ago, Mission: Readiness announced that every year, about 15,000 potential recruits failed entrance physicals because of excess body fat.

Unfortunately, many young Americans who want to join cannot. Startling statistics released by the Pentagon show that 75 percent of young people ages 17 to 24 are currently unable to enlist in the United States military.

And, 27 of those percentage points are accounted for by overweight individuals. Others are rejected because of “other medical problems that would disqualify them even if they were to lose enough weight.” One of those others is unacceptable dental health. The report also mentioned that 20% of Army reservists arrived at their appointed mobilization sites with “dental conditions that made them non-deployable.” Difficulty working is of course the most serious case, but difficulty in relaxing or sleeping also impacts the person’s ability to do their job.

The military keeps very close track of the problems that interfere with accomplishing the mission, and sorts its human resources into four categories:

DRC 1 — do not require dental treatment or re-evaluation — worldwide deployable
DRC 2 — require nonurgent dental treatment that could wait at least a year — worldwide deployable.
DRC 3 — require urgent or emergent dental treatment — not worldwide deployable
DRC 4 — require periodic dental examinations; or dental classification is unknown — not worldwide deployable

The armed forces require annual “dental readiness” assessments, after which DRC3 and DRC4 conditions must be immediately corrected.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Ready, Willing, And Unable To Serve,” missionreadiness.org, 2009
Source: “Dental Classification Fitness and How it Relates to the Operational Force,” fdiworlddental.org, 09/21/21
Image by Army Medicine/CC BY 2.0

Globesity Awareness, Be Raised More!

As we learned from the massive report called “Reframing Childhood Obesity: Cultural Insights on Nutrition, Weight, and Food Systems,” Japan requires adults to be measured yearly, and refers people with too-large waistlines to lifestyle intervention classes.

If the situation in a district is unacceptable, the local branch of government may be fined, and so may the company that a person or a relative of theirs works for. These institutions try to prevent such penalties by offering counseling, nutrition classes, and free exercise programs. There is also a cultural element that probably helps:

Rather than using the word “obesity,” which has negative connotations, the Japanese refer to “metabolic syndrome…” The general view is that speaking about fighting “metabo” seems much less offensive to individuals than speaking about fighting obesity, as it re-frames the focus to a health perspective, rather than openly criticizing the aesthetics of someone’s body.

Probably a lot of the credit for Japanese fitness belongs to the school lunches which, to quote teacher Jessica Korteman’s, are “awesome.” Elementary school children have a hot lunch for the equivalent of about $2.50 per day. The illustration on this page, though a cold brought-from-home meal, is similar to the variety and nutrition found in a typical school lunch. But equally important is the way things are done. Korteman’s very explicit article is highly recommended.

Cultural dynamics

France seems to have devised a way to combine school lunches (which after all, need to be pretty standardized) with a certain amount of joie de vivre. In some places, the authorities do not simply ask skinny people what is wrong with the status quo, or how it should be changed. They also listen to people who are “living in large bodies,” as the genteel phrase has it.

Brazil’s policies are quite sensitive to such matters as fat shaming, weight bias, stigma, and discrimination, and try hard to move things in another direction. The country’s Values-Based Nutritional Guidelines comprise 10 principles. Among other cultural mores, fresh foods and foods that have undergone minimal processing are preferred.

Similarly, Chile has used labeling laws and taxation to resist the ultra-processing trend that cranks out hyper-palatable products. To take such a stand is difficult, because the global corporations that make the stuff pretty much have their own way in everything.

In the Netherlands, one area of focus seems to be communication, specifically between government agencies, the private sector (meaning business), and the civilians who bear the consequences of both of their impetuous blunders. In New Zealand, with its fraught history of colonialism and racism, the philosophical ground is shaky. But things like this are happening:

Māori Systems Thinking Public health efforts have built on Māori systems thinking, introducing a holistic and collective approach to community interventions.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Reframing Childhood Obesity: Cultural Insights on Nutrition, Weight, and Food Systems,” Vanderbilt.edu, 2022
Image by Maria/CC BY 2.0

Globesity Awareness, Be Raised!

Here are the credits of a very timely report with five primary authors and 28 expert consultants from around the world, which looks at global childhood obesity from some angles that are not often considered:

With funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and in collaboration with WHO/Europe’s Behavioral and Cultural Insights Unit, the Vanderbilt Cultural Contexts of Health and Wellbeing Initiative uses cultural insights to help improve public health policy and healthcare delivery.

This 52-page document dives into various aspects of a problem that seems all too familiar. At the same time, it holds some lesser-known secrets whose exploration could make a significant difference. Over the last 40-plus years, “the prevalence of children classified as overweight or living with obesity based on BMI increased more than four-fold, from 4% to 18% globally.”

And yet, many professionals in the field now believe that Body Mass Index is not a good predictor of metabolic health for the individual. Japanese authorities have demoted BMI to only one risk factor among several. Since 2008, the “Metabo-Law” has required the waistlines of all adults over 40 and under 74 years of age should be measured annually. If the number does not fall within strict parameters, the people are referred to programs designed to help.

As of 2022, Japan is one of the 10 least obese countries in the world, with only less than 5% of its adults being defined as obese.

Heart of the matter

The core proposition of cultural awareness goes like this:

[R]ather than focusing on particular nutrients, acknowledge food as embedded in cultural contexts, allowing for creative adaptation to local circumstances…

It is hoped that consensus may emerge, regarding “the need to look beyond individual choices to address upstream cultural, commercial, and structural factors that produce obesogenic environments…” Cultural traditions are very stubborn, and if their energy and creativity can be captured:

We show how public health programs can work with, not against, cultural traditions and norms — harnessing local creativity to change nutritional outcomes.

Some societal norms probably have very little to do with culture or tradition, and increasing numbers of thoughtful individuals turn against the norms that have become destructive. Many of the earth’s people agree that children need to be protected from the marketing of ultra-processed foods with ultra-low nutritional value.

In South Africa, for example, the administration and the food corporations have worked out some limits and restrictions. In Mexico, reducing soda consumption is a major goal. Labeling guidelines and taxation are employed, along with regulations about marketing to children in school environments.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Reframing Childhood Obesity: Cultural Insights on Nutrition, Weight, and Food Systems,” Vanderbilt.edu, 2022
Source: “Obesity Rates by Country 2022,” WorldPopulationReview.com, undated
Image by Mark Licht/CC BY 2.0

Obesity Awareness and Mission: Readiness

At present, Mission: Readiness includes around 750 retired upper-echelon military leaders who stand for “evidence-based, bipartisan state and federal public policy solutions that are proven to prepare our youth for life and to be able to serve their nation in any way they choose.” The object is to help kids stay fit, in school, and out of trouble. Preventing malnutrition is one of the matters on the group’s agenda, and another very large concern is obesity.

Mission: Readiness is part of the Council for a Strong America, which also includes leaders from the law enforcement, business, health care, and economic development sectors of society. Their interests include not only military preparedness, but community safety, crime prevention, and the building of a competent and talented workforce to make sure every part of society achieves its potential. This can happen only by investing in the health, welfare, and education of the nation’s children, starting at a very young age.

In 2020, Mission: Readiness issued a report titled “Breaking Point: Child nutrition imperils America’s national security.” It revealed that weight issues would preclude almost one-third of America’s young people from military service. Even in the present era of voluntary enlistment, this is not good news, and if a national emergency necessitated reinstatement of the draft, it would be a disaster. The injury factor alone is forbidding. According to the report,

Army recruits in ten Southern states […] had lower levels of physical fitness, and were up to 28 percent more likely to be injured during basic training than their peers from other regions of the country. Another study found that active duty soldiers with obesity were 33 percent more likely to experience musculoskeletal injury, contributing to the nearly four million injuries that occurred among those on active duty between 2008 and 2017.

Ironically, the youth of Washington, D.C., the country’s capital, are the least fit of all. At the time the report was prepared, the estimated number of American children experiencing food insecurity was as high as 18 million. The authors warned that, although it may seem counterintuitive, the connection between food insecurity, malnutrition, and obesity is real because the lack of access to affordable, healthful groceries usually means that kids are eating the less costly and more accessible stuff, with a definite shortage of nutritional value but plenty of added obesogens.

Food insecurity, or the lack of access to affordable, healthy foods, can result in consuming cheaper and more accessible food, which often lacks nutritional value. The last sentence of the report’s Conclusion was,

Lawmakers must modernize federal nutrition programs, created out of concerns for national security, so that programs can continue to help prepare America’s children for strong futures throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Breaking Point: Child nutrition imperils America’s national security,” Strongnation, Sept. 2020
Image by Alachua County/Public Domain

Childhood Obesity and National Security

Childhood Obesity Awareness Month encompasses many areas of life, including military preparedness. NPR journalist Yuki Noguchi wrote,

Across all segments of the military, 31% of young adults ages 17 to 24 cannot enlist because they’re too heavy, according to the Department of Defense. The Army, the military’s largest branch, needs to recruit about 130,000 people a year to carry out its missions, and therefore faces the brunt of the recruitment challenge that childhood obesity presents.

Some experts even go so far as to predict that within a generation or two, the shortage of fit recruits could become an “existential threat” to the country. To complicate the problem, a disproportionate number of new military members come from the American South, where obesity rates are higher than in the North. Of course, when the COVID-19 pandemic came along, that did not help matters at all, on any front. People of all ages, from all parts of the country, have tended to put on pounds.

Taking responsibility

No official program is involved, but starting about 10 years ago, some individual recruiters have been taking it upon themselves to work with potential recruits in order to get them down to acceptable enlistment weight. They have seized the initiative to do things like start workout sessions in recruitment office parking lots.

The reporter spoke with one such mentor, Staff Sgt. Stephen Ahlstrom, who has even been known to pick up the teens he is trying to help at home and drive them to workout sessions. Some of the young folks will hang in there for months, determined to meet the standard. One of Ahlstrom’s mentees eventually dropped 100 pounds.

A recruiter might periodically record weights and measurements to monitor the progress of the young people who show up. They also listen and talk, helping with the various mental challenges involved in making such an extreme life change. They might remind a struggling overweight youth that having a weekly “cheat day” does not mean eating like a fool all day, but allows, for instance, one cheeseburger on Saturday night. Even small hints can help, like downing a daily gallon of water.

The brass get involved

Even for dedicated mentors, many factors are beyond their control, like low family incomes and lack of access to healthful foods. The reporter spoke with Maj. Gen. Malcolm Frost, who belongs to the nonprofit group Mission Readiness. He and others like him have been focusing on preventative measures, like championing food subsidies for low-income families so that basic nutrition can be assured.

Retired major general Jeffrey Snow is another high-ranking military person who issued warnings. Of him, Noguchi wrote,

“It’s a wicked problem,” he says, adding that he’d spent years “talking myself blue in the face” but without much success. “I can’t even tell you that I had an impact on this issue.”

Still, thanks to such organizations and to the recruiters’ unofficial efforts, it is estimated that between one and two thousand people per year are rendered fit for acceptance into the armed forces’ basic training programs.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Fighting Weight: How Military Recruiters Take On Obesity, Case By Case,” NPR.org, 05/17/21
Image by U.S. Army Europe/Public Domain

Awareness Month All Year

Earlier this year, the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the American Beverage Foundation for a Healthy America gave nine American cities awards of various amounts, totaling $745,000. The winners were recognized for supporting “programs to enhance health, wellness and environmental quality of life for children and families.”

Salisbury, NC, and Daytona Beach, FL, are both intensely addressing childhood obesity prevention. Denver, CO, is home to Food Matters: Solutions for Food Waste Reduction…

[…] an innovative two-part project that aims to address both environmental sustainability and food insecurity. The program will teach Denver residents to make full use of the food they purchase and consume and incentivize local restaurants to donate surplus food to those in need.

In Des Moines, IA, a program provides fruits and vegetables for children with diet-related diseases, “while delivering nutrition education and collecting and monitoring biometrics on a routine basis.” Baltimore, MD, focuses on gardening and cooking. Montgomery, AL, also concentrates on outdoor gardening for the sake of both fitness, and better food.

In Orlando, FL, a program trains young people to become certified beekeepers. Bridgeport, CT, wants to improve the public health and fitness facilities in two city parks. The program that won for White Plains, NY, sounds very serious:

Peer Advocates for Healthy Living (PAHL) will recruit 40 high school youth who will undergo rigorous 12-week (36-hour) training in nutrition; healthy cooking on a budget; barriers to achieving health (emotional, social, and/or physical); and public speaking and presentation skills.

For Physicians Weekly, Sara Karjoo, M.D., delineated several principles that are important for every doctor to bear in mind. Why? Because:

By addressing obesity in pediatric patient care, physicians can potentially slow the progression of metabolic disease, along with numerous serious chronic diseases. By taking these steps, we can serve as better advocates for our patients’ future health.

While other factors may come into play, healthful food and sufficient exercise are the foundation on which everything else rests. The societal, cultural, personal and medical risks of obesity are different for children and teens than they are for adults. It is definitely not a one-size-fits-all situation. And with children, it is not useful to make a big deal out of poundage:

Weight loss is not as critical a parameter in children. Rather than weight loss, the emphasis for children should be on promoting healthy habits and improving body composition.

Doctors are also advised not to ignore new tools or treatments, or advances in such formerly science-fictional areas as genetic testing, to identify traits that lead to obesity. Another suggestion is to take a second look at something formerly shunned, like bariatric surgery, which can greatly benefit a teen with multiple co-morbidities.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Nine Cities Share $745,000 in Grants to Promote Childhood Obesity Prevention…,” USMayors.org, 01/29/22
Source: “CDC Study Finds Alarming Increase in Pediatric Obesity Rates 5 Points for Physicians to Understand,” PhysiciansWeekly.com, 01/13/22
Image by Nicholas Wang/CC BY-SA 2.0

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Profiles: Kids Struggling with Weight

Profiles: Kids Struggling with Obesity top bottom

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:

Presentations

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