Childhood Obesity and Genetically Modified Organisms


Yesterday, Childhood Obesity News looked at the pending California situation, where residents of the state are trying to pass legislation that would compel food manufacturers to label genetically modified products. But what does this have to do with childhood obesity?

We have examined a couple of the angles before. High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) has an unusual effect on lab rats, causing them to get fatter, per calorie consumed, than the rats fed on traditionally derived sugar. Also, pancreatic tumor cells seem to have a special fondness for HFCS. If the effect on humans is the same, this is not good news for either oncology patients or overweight and obese children. And — no surprise here — it just so happens that HFCS is made from genetically modified corn.

Equally alarming, it appears there is a connection between genetically modified foods and food allergies, and another connection between allergies and a child’s proclivity toward food addiction. A HubPages writer known as “stevemark122000” reminds us that emotional eating is a big cause of, and coexisting condition with, food addiction.

But it seems there are other factors, namely, allergies and hormonal and neurochemical imbalances. Some researcher, somewhere, has found evidence for all of these. One of the effects of a food allergy, for instance, is that a person might feel even hungrier after eating that food. Hungry kids can turn into overweight and obese kids. The columnist says:

Over time, eating the same foods too often can cause sensitivity to the food leading to allergic reaction… The body releases histamine and other chemicals which cause a number of side effects including mood swings, headaches, migraines, asthma, skin rashes and heart palpitations… Continually eating foods that cause allergies depletes the body’s immune system and nutrients rendering it incapable of fighting bugs and viruses when they attack… Food allergies can cause hormonal imbalance which may cause a deficiency in serotonin levels. This can trigger cravings for unhealthy foods to compensate for the deficiency.

The allergy connection is likely culprit when you consider this startling fact about the percentage of processed foods in America that are made from genetically modified something-or-other. That percentage is 70. In any food that causes allergic reactions, the responsible molecule is usually a protein. Coincidentally, proteins are the element most often altered by genetic engineering.

Since 1997, peanut allergies have tripled. Also, the main GMOs or genetically modified organisms are canola, cotton, corn, and soy. What does that have to do with peanut allergy? Here is how the author ties it all together:

A study conducted by the York Laboratory in 1999 found a link connecting an increase in GMO soy imports to the UK to a 50 percent increase in the nation’s soy allergies. And according to Jeffrey Smith, a leading authority on genetically modified foods, soybeans and peanuts have at least one common protein that can trigger reactions to both, which may correlate to rising peanut allergies mirroring the rise in genetically modified soy.

In other words, the genetic modification of soy could be making more kids vulnerable to peanut allergy, which can be deadly. If there is even the smallest chance that GMOs are responsible for an increased tendency toward food addiction, that is worth looking into because, although the casualties are not as sudden or dramatic, it’s equally deadly.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Food Addiction, Food Craving, Chemical Cause of Overeating and Food Allergy, Allergies Treatment,”, 07/31/12
Source: “Are Genetically Modified Foods Causing A Rise in Food Allergies?,” Organic Authority
Image by random_alias (CB).

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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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