Seven Ways to Not Be Fat

West Boulevard Elementary

As the year approaches its end, let us look back at a few of the more intriguing discoveries and proposals in the area of childhood obesity and obesity in general. Sometimes, research findings are deemed promising. Sometimes, suggestions for behavioral, environmental, or policy modification are translated into action, and that can be a beautiful thing.

We talked about the notion of the walking school bus. Some people believe it can influence childhood obesity, and the government has put a whole lot of tax money into promoting and trying it out. Did you know it’s possible to spend $10,000 just to get a map made, of the best walking routes to school? Your newsblog editor would have done it for $5,000, and paid her own travel expenses to Eagan, Minnesota.

Others believe that, while walking may not exert a direct and provable effect on childhood obesity, it does offer many other demonstrable benefits toward quality of life. In turn, the quality of life influences the mindset of a person who might choose whether to engage in comfort eating or to seek other ways of handling negative emotions. Please visit this nice YouTube video clip that emphasizes some of the advantages of the walking school bus.

People have been thinking up a lot of ideas aimed at reducing obesity. While results may be positive, unintended consequences can also arise. Some suggestions are not so easily adaptable to reality as we know it. Bearing all that in mind, here are some tips for avoiding obesity:

Live in the Right City

There are people who spend whole careers dealing with transportation policy, walkability, transit access, and other matters vital to urban dwellers. Sometimes they stumble over strange paradoxes, like this one noted by Willy Staley:

Some of our oldest, densest cities — the cities that planners most like to emulate — suffer from epidemic level obesity rates. And some of our more sprawling metros are much fitter and healthier… Really, it is much easier to correlate obesity rates with poverty than it is with walkability or livability. That isn’t to say that the US DOT shouldn’t be working on increasing our transit and livability options, it’s just to say that no one should be surprised if these initiatives fail to provide any meaningful decreases in the obesity rate.

Ban Buses

Apparently, there is a school of thought that believes obesity can be quashed by cutting public transportation. Maybe so, but it would sure hurt a lot of people. Any politician who would use increased fitness as an excuse to drydock city buses, needs their mouth washed out with soap.

Be Scottish

A little piece in the Express reported that, according to experts,

Scotland’s childhood obesity crisis is nowhere near as bad as that of other countries… Obesity rates among children in Scotland are far lower than those in supposedly healthy Mediterranean countries…

Take that, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Malta, and Croatia! Supposedly, the news of Scotland’s relatively low obesity is based on a World Health Organization study concerning 11-year-old boys, to which a link does not seem to have been included, and which is a little difficult to track down.

If Addicted to Food, Make One of These Four Moves

Sometimes, things go way past the point where even the most ambulatory of school buses could help. For anyone who knows from personal experience that food addiction is real, the Eating Disorder Referral and Information Center states that these four choices are your best bets:

A. Cognitive-behavioral therapy: Method in which the client is taught techniques to monitor and change their eating habits, as well as to change the way they respond to difficult and stressful situations.

B. Interpersonal psychotherapy: Method in which the client is taught to examine their relationships with friends and family and to make changes in problem areas.

C. Medications: Antidepressants may be helpful for some individuals.

D. Self-help groups: These groups may be a good additional source of support for many.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Fewer students walk to school,” MPR News, 10/01/11
Source: “Can the Dep’t of Transportation Combat Obesity?,”, 07/22/10
Source: “Myth of Obesity in Children,”, 10/10/11
Source: “Eating Disorder Referral and Information Center,”
Image by MoBikeFed, used under its Creative Commons license.

2 Responses

  1. In our industry we see many children that are so much larger than when I was a child. They are exceeding the recommendations on any BMI chart in most cases. In trying to explore the whys, I have to ask my self some easy questions. What routine does this child’s home life offer? Does he/she have routine times of day to sleep, eat, bedtime, family time, homework time, etc. I think the habits of a child must start with the parents and stem from there. If it is acceptable to browse through the house and eat whatever is handy at random times of the day and night them the results will be negative to the childs overall mental and physical health. I think doing things together with a child is not only fun, but it establishes their habits. Going to the grocery store can be fun. Get a fruit or vegatable in every color. Visit the dietician in the grocery store and enroll in the child classes. The learning process of health eating habits should be done at an early age and together with them. Use the “green” bags. Take walks with you children. Be sure that they are in at least one sport or physical activity and be a part of their lives. Keep moving!!

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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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