The Childhood Obesity Perfect Storm, Part 3


We have talked about the Perfect Storm concept before. This is what happens when a whole lot of conditions converge to cause a large problem. Probably no single one of them alone would have done it. But when they gang up and come at us all at once, we’re toast. The childhood obesity epidemic seems inevitable.

Or does it? This trend, that is so much like a plague, can it be reversed? We need to look at all kinds of ideas. So, it is useful to scrutinize them one by one. Dr. Pretlow does this in Overweight: What Kids Say, where he spotlights the high-tech production methods employed to churn out tons of highly pleasurable, highly addictive food, or, in some cases, quasi-food. He says,

The level of technology and industrial production of snack food and fast food is mind-boggling… Industrialized mass-production has brought high pleasure food to an unprecedented level… Cheap, highly pleasurable food is now available to everyone, including kids.

To learn more about this, he recommends “Snack Food Tech” and “Fast Food Tech,” both from the Modern Marvels TV series produced by the History Channel. The creators of these films say,

Can fast food get any faster? Fast food joints in the US pull in $150 billion dollars in annual sales. Their mantra is ‘fast, consistent, and inexpensive.’ Learn how they grow it, process it, freeze it, ship it, track it, fry it, flip it and pack it… Find out what the future holds for fast food technology.

In the presentation “Why Are Children Overweight?” at, Dr. Pretlow shows a video clip of the factory that makes 83 million Tootsie Rolls per day. Holy smoke, that’s a lot of Tootsie Rolls. And they are only one of hundreds of candy brands and a seemingly infinite variety of confectionery items (Slide 43).

In Slide 44, Dr. Pretlow talks about Dr. David Kessler, who pointed out that there is such a thing as hyperpalatable food, and who has tried to alert us to what an unfortunate development that is. These hedonic substances are the ones named by kids as their biggest problem foods (Slide 49) — in other words, the ones that are most addictive.

So, not only are tons of this stuff being produced, but tons of it are being consumed, much to the detriment of the American health scene. The overall picture is not good. There is debate about the notion of forbidding junk-food vending machines in schools, which sounds like a good idea on the face of it.

On the other hand, human nature is unconquerable. Kids who want junk food will get junk food. Just ask Michael Prager about his childhood career is a food addict/thief. Supermarkets and convenience stores are open day and night, and, in a many cases, a child doesn’t even need an outside source because there is so much hedonic food in his or her home. We will be talking about this again.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Overweight: What Kids Say,”
Source: “Training Video DVD: Fast Food Tech (History Channel – Modern Marvels Series),”
Image by LiebeDich. (Bruna Costa), used under its Creative Commons license.

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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:


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.

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