Childhood Obesity Awareness Month – Where Are We Now?


Since the February 2010 launch of Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” program, what has been happening? Has anything changed in the year since the first Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, in September 2010? Has childhood obesity awareness evolved during this time? As it turns out, quite a few interesting things have occurred, and even some promising ones.

Many more people now believe that food addiction contributes to, or is the main cause of, the obesity epidemic. This has happened through the efforts of Dr. Pretlow and a small but growing number of doctors and other health professionals.

The idea has taken hold among the public. For instance, attorney Greg Webb recently posted a story called “Food Addiction and Obesity May Cost Us Our Future,” and that is only one of many examples all over the media.

Another idea has spread, too. Childhood Obesity News has mentioned Dr. Susan Rubin before. A retired dentist and the mother of three, Dr. Rubin is also a food educator and founder of the Better School Food blog. Here is a sample:

Childhood Obesity is a symptom of a bigger problem that is caused by a multitude of factors… Declining children’s health is an example of a perfect storm in which many factors added up at the same time… We’ve got to step back, look at the big picture and consider all the factors that have gotten us to this point.

The perfect storm meme has, of course, been frequently referenced by Childhood Obesity News.

Rubin holds an unorthodox opinion about the supremacy of calories, calling it an “outdated myth.” No combination of diet and exercise makes up the whole equation. She believes that most nutrition professionals are “barking up the wrong tree,” for this reason:

It’s simply not that simple! This law of thermodynamics does not apply in the human body, which is a complex system. The food industry loves to talk about ‘energy balance’ and play along with this calories in/ calories out concept. This calorie mythology enables them to reduce calorie content by shifting portion sizes and adding more questionable chemicals into our food and drink that enhance flavor without additional calories. Ingredients matter more than calories do. After all, 100 calories of dog poop is still dog poop!

Why does the writer compare certain foodlike substances to dog poop? Because something they contain is causing not only obesity among children, but more allergies, asthma, digestive disorders, eating disorders, and behavioral aberrations than ever before. And if calories must be the topic, Rubin takes the conversation where she wants it to go:

Some estimates say we are using between 7 and 10 calories of fossil fuel for every 1 calorie of food. These are the calories that we really need to be looking at when we consider what we are eating.

Rubin discusses the high cost of cheap food and trash-talks the Farm Bill, explaining its disastrous effects in very clear terms. She is a proponent of gardens and cooking from scratch, and an opponent of the philosophy that expects salvation to come from Washington. Her call to action is stirring:

No one is going to fix this problem for us, especially not the food industry. Its up to us on the grass roots level to roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Food Addiction And Obesity May Cost Us Our Future,” InjuryBoard Charlottesville, 08/01/11
Source: “Childhood Obesity: A Reality Check,” Better School Food, 09/14/10
Image by dboy, used under its Creative Commons license.

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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.

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