Vanquish Food Cravings With “W8 Loss 2 Go”

July 7, 2009

As Childhood Obesity News has mentioned before, a large part of the human race seems to have lost the instinct that tells a healthy animal what to eat and what to avoid. This instinct needs to be recovered or recreated, similar to what Dr. Pretlow writes on the topic of kids who have addressed their obesity and successfully turned their lives around.

The information comes from children and teenagers who respond on Dr. Pretlow’s Weigh2Rock website, either by voting in polls or by sharing their experiences in the discussions. Researchers are tracking down the roots of food cravings. But even without exactly knowing everything about the origins of cravings, many young people have discovered ways to deal with them, and Overweight: What Kids Say goes into some detail on the subject.

Successful kids cultivate an awareness of what they are really feeling when a food craving hits. Chapter 15 says:

They learn to recognize true hunger (grumbling, empty stomach) versus emotional hunger (seeking comfort from food when upset, nervous, or bored). They acknowledge that they’re hooked on, even addicted to, certain foods that they seek out when unhappy or bored. They identify situations that push them to crave…

This matter of telling the difference between real hunger and fake hunger was the object of the study Childhood Obesity News mentioned in Part 6 of “How to Vanquish Food Cravings,” done by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco. The entire study is available online.

Dr. Pretlow recommends dropping one problem food at a time, a project which the “W8 Loss 2 Go” iPhone app was created to help with. Designed to give real-time help and support against food cravings (link is PDF), it provides coping skills and activities.

The “W8 Loss 2 Go” explains to the child:

Cravings usually come when you’re nervous, stressed, frustrated, or bored. You want pleasurable food to make yourself feel better emotionally… Cravings are the worst when you’re trying to resist a problem food and get unhooked from it.

With “W8 Loss 2 Go,” a child in the grip of a food craving can get an instant reminder about self-interventions that his peers have found helpful. The child makes a plan for resisting cravings, and keeps track of the increasingly successful ability to do so.

Many people of all ages are sending out a cry for help: “Tell me how to resist cravings.” People are different, and the inevitable result of human variety is that different things work for different people. For the seekers, what this means in practical terms is: If the first idea you try doesn’t work for you, it’s worth trying another one. Or several.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Mindfulness Intervention for Stress Eating to Reduce Cortisol and Abdominal Fat among Overweight and Obese Women: An Exploratory Randomized Controlled Study,”, 2011
Image of the water by Pilottage, used under its Creative Commons license.

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Profiles: Kids Struggling with Weight

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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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