Childhood Obesity, Celebrities, and Eating Disorders (Part 3)


We see some things so often, we just take them for granted, and get used to them. It never occurs to us to step back and say, “Wait… What?” One of those freakish sociological quirks is the overwhelming and ubiquitous obsession with the bodies of famous people.

Remember that photo of Michelle Obama and two other women walking up a flight of steps in Europe? It was all over the Interwebs, complete with snarky comments about the relative sizes of our First Lady, and another president’s wife, and a princess. How does that happen? A huge percentage of Americans are overweight or obese. What standing does any American have to criticize?

And, much more importantly, what connection can Ms. Obama’s measurements possibly have to her ability to be a good leader of the “Let’s Move!” program, or a good First Lady, wife, mother, or even President? That is what a lot of people ask.

Those questions lead into the area of “fat-shaming” and the whole philosophical debate, which can also become a very emotional one, on whether intervention does more harm than good. Especially when it is initiated by the federal government.

If we are okay with the idea of the President’s wife putting her energy into the attempt to stop childhood obesity, why should it matter if she herself is overweight? She has been called a hypocrite and worse. Is that a valid attitude?

But here is the interesting part. The famous debunking site rates that much-forwarded photo as false. In other words, manipulated, fabricated, created, changed. says Michelle Obama wasn’t even in Spain for the pictured event, but all the way over in Washington, D.C., USA.

The other interesting thing is, of course, why anyone spends a minute’s time thinking about or talking about the First Lady’s rear end. What’s up with that? Where are we, as a country, when fake pictures of people’s hindquarters are admissible to the political discourse? Where are we, when a film star’s weight gain or loss is worthy of a cover story in a magazine?

The Huffington Post writer Nancy Deville took the trouble to compile a list of celebrities who have endorsed weight-loss products. Here it is, along with her commentary:

Sarah Ferguson, Jason Alexander, Dan Marino, Carrie Fisher, Valerie Bertinelli, Jennifer Hudson, Marie Osmond, Carnie Wilson… Kirstie Alley… Unfortunately for the shareholders behind those products, many celebrities end up regaining the weight they’ve lost — and more.

Deville makes an elaborate analogy between the human body and a house, and rather than see it inadequately summarized here, readers are urged to go to the original article. But here’s the long and short of it:

Whether you’re a celebrity or not, dieting results in priming your body physiologically to be a more efficient fat-storing machine.

And then, Deville goes on to discuss the fascinating topic of “starvation neurosis,” which is also worth a close look, and finishes up with advice:

To achieve your optimal body weight you need to stop dieting. Forget instant weight loss results… Next, stop eating all factory-produced food… Eat a balanced diet of real, whole, living food. Real food is anything that could picked, gathered, milked, hunted or fished, that is grown or raised in a clean environment and that has not had any ‘science-fiction processing’ done to it.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Butt Seriously,”, 09/09/10
Source: “Learning From Celebrity Dieting in the News,” The Huffington Post, 08/25/11
Image by Frugal Cafe.

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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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