Everything You Know Is Wrong, Part 4


Sleep may be the last frontier whose mysteries will ever be penetrated. It’s still a puzzler, and its relationship to obesity even more so. “Everything You Know Is Wrong, Part 2” discussed insufficient sleep. Does it do anything besides make kids cranky the next day? Does it really cause kids to get fat, or not?

Breastfeeding and childhood obesity — what’s up with that, anyway? And the problematic case of the healthy heart checkmark logo and some of the bad neighborhoods in which it has been sighted, a contradiction pointed out by Kevin Richardson, who says,

The ideal consumer is a confused consumer.

In “Everything You Know Is Wrong, Part 3,” we considered the conflicting “facts” about the effects of proximity to places where junk food and fast food are available, and the effects of advertising and marketing. If children were to no longer be targeted with junk-food ads, would 20 million Americans really be thrown out of work? Who has the time to do the research and find out if that could possibly be true? Hearing such a claim, the average American probably thinks, somewhere deep inside, “Better to keep on buying the freeze-dried chocolate-covered bacon and give the economy a boost.”

If you count not just fizzy drinks, but all sugar-sweetened drinks (SSDs), it appears that two-thirds of all the teenagers in America swig at least one of the things per day. The numbers have improved since a decade ago, says a recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but the craving for soda pop is not going away any time soon, and it is a big obesity villain, and a diabetes villain, too. And a heart attack and stroke villain. Everybody knows that.

Well, almost everybody. The Center for Consumer Freedom has published a book, An Epidemic of Obesity Myths, whose anonymous authors say,

Four published studies claim to show a connection between childhood obesity and soda consumption. All of them have significant limitations.

Not only do they claim to have “debunked” the cause-and-effect link between SSDs and obesity, they list a number of studies supporting the contention that, obesity-wise, junk food and soda pop are essentially no worse than nutritionally approved foods.

Sincerely dedicated researchers are groping and grasping, and floundering around, trying to get a handle on this childhood obesity problem, and coming up with contradictory answers. It’s like the ancient tale of the blind men and the elephant. The one who feels the leg says it’s a pillar, but another guy, who feels the tail, says it’s a rope, and the one who encounters the tusk says it is a spear, while the blind man who connects with the ear thinks it is a fan, and so on.

But it’s really an elephant, and in this analogy, the elephant is food addiction. Some, including Dr. Pretlow, recognize the elephant for what it is, and see food addiction as the driving force behind the obesity epidemic.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Teens keep chugging soda despite health risks, says study,” CBS News’ HealthPop, 06/16/11
Source: “Myth: Soda Causes Childhood Obesity,” ObesityMyths.com
Image by sarahemcc, used under its Creative Commons license.

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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.

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