Childhood Obesity Photoshop Fail, Continued

Mon Gros Matou

Last time, Childhood Obesity News discussed how Laura Beck of Jezebel took a raging dislike to the California anti-obesity ad that turned a regular little girl into a puffy-cheeked caricature. Among other angry things, she wrote:

I’ll tell you what it’s like to be standing with a parent, friend, or bully when you see an ad like that — it’s humiliating, shameful, and sometimes dangerous… These government and school sanctioned weight loss programs just [make] it that much harder for kids today.

Whether or not anyone believes that the government should enroll kids in anti-obesity programs, inside school or outside, the results of such programs have been dismal. And the campaign itself, of which the widely-criticized ad was installment #1, is chastised by Beck as unprofessional:

So, say you were an adult or kid who saw that ad… [A]nd actually visited First 5’s site, you’d be greeted with little information. Some of their programs haven’t been updated since 2009, and others have ‘Page Information — Coming Soon’ placeholders. Seriously, you guys? If you’re gonna go out of your way to pay for ads that belittle and humiliate children, at least pretend to offer a solution.

Which came first, the much-maligned First 5 ad, or the bizarre “Fat People Pictures Gallery” to which Photoshop hobbyists submit pictures of celebrities blown up to two or three times their real-life size? Tom Cruise, Carmen Electra, Britney Spears, Nicole Kidman, Brad Pitt, Halle Berry, even George W. Bush and Osama Bin Laden are all here, artificially swollen and bloated, under the guise of education.

An accompanying article by Dr. Udo Pollmer, which originally appeared in Frankfurter Allgemeine, explains why reducing diets don’t work, and lists some of the more than 100 causes that are “known according to which a person accumulates weight.” In a very rough translation, the website quotes Dr. Pollmer:

As a matter of fact, obesity problem is not so much aesthetic as much as psychological… Under the guidance of Gregory Simon, scientists destroyed the already prevalent stereotype that fat people are jolly. It is ascertained that, fat persons are more vulnerable to depressions and mood swings… [P]eople with obesity problems experience anxious and emotional disorders including depression 25 % more than the others.

In other media obesity news, Mary McNamara recently wrote for the Los Angeles Times about her own past as a 200-pound high school girl. For starters, she says fat kids just plain eat differently:

I became obese by eating pretty much all the time; I regularly ate until it hurt. This required an elaborate, and often exhausting, set of rationalizations, delusions and outright lies… I did not eat like a fat kid because the television told me to, or because the boxes were pretty, or because there were no apples in my house. I ate that way because I was afraid, because I was angry, because I often felt alone and hopeless. I ate because the taste and feel of the food in my mouth distracted me from the grim rattle of my own thoughts and the often out-of-control things that were happening around me, including my ballooning self.

Life as a fat kid, McNamara suggests, is unimaginably different from the lives of normal-weight kids. At the very least, the importance of what she ate was equaled by the importance of what was in her mind — denial and shame. Even so, she is not a fan of the “fat acceptance” movement, saying:

No child should be encouraged to diet themselves to a Hollywood template but neither should she, or he, be encouraged to accept being 40 pounds overweight.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Government Org Photoshops Little Girl, Makes Her Fat to Fight Obesity,” Jezebel, 06/05/13
Source: “Fat People — pictures gallery,”
Source: “TV’s focus on childhood obesity hits home,” LA Times, 04/15/13
Image by Sunny Ripert.

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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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