A Week of Empty Calories on the Table

Week on Table

If you want to visit the Unhealthiest Town in America, the federal Centers for Disease Control will direct you to Huntington, West Virginia. That’s where fitness-conscious celebrity chef and TV personality Jamie Oliver recently traveled, in order to meet some typical American families and show them the light.

There are two reasons why this is so interesting. First, it’s not every day you see a week’s worth of junk food in a single, astonishing heap. This represents the weekly intake of a six-member family, and, all together in one place, that’s a lot of vittles, with not a floret of broccoli in sight. This fascinating review was written by Amy Beth Arkawy, who has a Master’s degree in counseling, and writes fiction, non-fiction, plays; and also hosts her own radio talk show. She says,

The show is surprisingly entertaining and actually has a purpose that is largely missing from the empty-calorie junk food TV that fuels most of the Reality genre.

Oliver has been spreading his nutritional creed in England, where big changes have been made as a result. He’s serious about it being a revolutionary movement. The educational kitchen that he set up in the West Virginia town is still in operation, despite opposition from, for instance, a school’s head cook. “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution” can be seen in its entirety on ABC.com and Hulu.com.

Within Arkawy’s review, we get a very revealing sample. Scroll down to the second video, and before you watch this with kids, be aware that Oliver’s language is rather blunt. For the camera, he makes the mother cook up everything she would normally serve in a seven-day period. He piles it on the kitchen table and demands to know how she feels, looking at the mountain of grease-saturated starches. “It’s gross,” she admits. The chef with a mission then sits Mom down for a heart-to-heart talk.

Which brings us to the part that illustrates a very important concept that we’ve heard time and time again. For kids to lose weight, they need parents who model reasonable, healthful behaviors. Dr. Pretlow was amazed to learn that nearly three-fourths of the children visiting the BlubberBuster website do not tell their parents about it. In another poll, he asked why their weight loss interest and efforts were kept secret from the people closest to them, who should be their natural support system. Typical answers came from three girls, ages 12, 15, and 13, who gave their reasons:

… [M]y family says I am too young to be worried about my weight…
… I’m just tired of my mom getting into my weight business…
… [M]y parents also tend to annoy me and consistently push me to lose weight. I want to do it without their help and nagging…

But it must be a family project, not this all-too-frequent division of labor, where the parents scold, shame, sabotage or enable, while the children eat. Everybody has to pull up their socks and get with a new program.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “What’s Eating America? Oliver’s ‘Food Revolution’ Not Just Made For TV,” News Junkie Post, 04/28/10
Source: “If you keep this site or weight loss a secret, what is the reason you do so?,” Blubberbuster.com, 06/05
Screen capture from ABC used under Fair Use: Reporting.

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Profiles: Kids Struggling with Weight

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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