What Kids Say About “Overweight: What Kids Say” – and Grownups Too

Happy Children Playing Kids

The Weigh2Rock website has invited kids aged 18 and under to download the PDF version of Dr. Robert A. Pretlow’s book, Overweight: What Kids Say, for free. Since then, kids residing in countries like Great Britain, Canada, and Australia, as well as the U.S., have taken advantage of the opportunity. They are also welcome to post their comments about the book.

One thing we’ve learned is that most kids say they don’t ask their parents for help with their weight and most keep our website or their weight loss efforts a secret from parents and friends. This desire for privacy is one of the reasons why Weigh2Rock has been so successful in drawing out the true feelings of children and teens about their struggles with food addiction. There are discussion areas, and for specific questions, there are the polls.

In fact, this month marks the posting of Weigh2Rock‘s 100th poll! It is quite a milestone, and the polls have proved to be an invaluable source of insight and understanding about what’s going on in the heads and daily lives of overweight and obese kids. Particularly interesting are the questions that involve parents. Here are some examples:

  • Have you asked a parent for help with your weight?
  • Should very obese kids be taken away form their parents?
  • Can you lose weight without help from your parents?
  • How do overweight parents act if you try to lose weight?
  • How do your parents treat you in regard to your weight?

And, speaking of parents, there is a whole section for them (us) on the site, which includes many helpful articles as well as a bulletin board and chatroom.

Overweight: What Kids Say is attracting notice:

Constance Matthiessen of WebMD referenced Dr. Pretlow and his book in an article entitled “Overweight Children: Tips for Parents.” She was struck by the raw honesty of young people who admit “food is my friend.” One of her recommendations is:

Do talk to kids about other issues that may affect their weight.
Being overweight can be a symptom of a deeper issue that your child is experiencing… For example, loneliness is often a factor in children’s weight issues… Overweight kids may be lonely because they are socially isolated. Pretlow urges parents to get kids involved in activities: “Music classes, clubs, or volunteer activities will keep your child active and will also help him meet people who share his interests.” He also suggests engaging kids in family outings and physical activities.

And this does not mean a walk to the ice cream store. Too many of us, when we do get some exercise, have a tendency to con ourselves into thinking that the walk or the bike ride will cancel out the bad effects of whatever junk food we consume en route. Our minds have been poisoned by the advertising slogans telling us how much and in how many ways we deserve a heaping helping of their brand of pseudo-food. Well, that’s pseudo-logic. In fact, it’s nonsense. We have to stop thinking that way. A family outing or physical activity means just that. Out and active. Toting bottles of plain old H2O, which is all a family really needs for an outing.

The writer took special notice of the answers given by young people when asked about factors that could end childhood obesity. Not surprisingly, kids point out again and again the importance of parents being worthy role models and setting a good example. Matthiessen also suggests that parents be allies rather than antagonists of the child.

And it sure helps if parents are allies with each other, too, and not at each other’s throats all the time. Tension between parents can drive a kid nuts, and one of the ways that can manifest is in eating disorders. Never doubt it for a minute.

Therapy Times recently published an article by Dr. Pretlow, which is actually a guide for nutritionists concerned about childhood obesity. And what nutritionist is not vastly interested in this very important mission? (Dr. Pretlow notes that there is an editorial error in regard to the rats study and heroin.)

I have developed a reputation over the years of being one of the local “active” caregivers. We go outside twice a day… Whatever we do, we are busy… I feed them real, whole foods and everyone has a quiet time in the afternoon.

The above quotation is the philosophy of child care specialist and writer Elaine Robbins, as expressed via her blog Fit Kids and Food. She does not specifically mention Dr. Pretlow on this page, but they are certainly on the same wavelength. For instance, in a piece called “Childhood Obesity – Could It Be Addiction?” Robbins says:

For those who find a way to fit activity into their lives and make good food choices, all in the name of good healthy and hopefully longevity, it is easy to say to those who are already overweight, “Just move more and eat less.” That may very well be the math and science that is the foundation of health and wellness, but it excludes the psychological side of addiction. And that is exactly what we are asking children who are obese to deal with. If your child became addicted to drugs or alcohol and they wanted help you would get them professional help. Addiction is addiction is addiction – no matter how you say it.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!
Source: “Overweight Children: Tips for Parents,” WebMD
Source: “Childhood Obesity – Could It Be Addiction?,” Fit Kids and Food
Image by epSos.de, used under its Creative Commons license.

One Response

  1. Curious why portray a relatively thin child at the top of this page and also in the photo in the intro to this article.

    Also please recognize that no it is not the food that obese children are primarily addicted to but the ACT of eating for comfort, to fill the empty time and because they may have been unconsciously taught that food is a substitute of love!

    You see before you can understand Childhood Obesity (and hey dr. you are close but) you must first understand the complex relationship between children and food and the aspect of behaviors learned in infancy and toddlerhood.

    IS food part of the cause—-sure but it has a minimal relationship to obesity.

    For more details call me. I would like to join your team.


    Randi/THe Muffin Lady

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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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