Some Thoughts About Carnie Wilson

Farmers' Market

Carnie Wilson is worth thinking about because she is iconic. She’s talented, upfront and a real trooper who may be one of the hardest-working women in show business. “Relatability” is a very important quality in the entertainment world, and plus-size working mother Carnie Wilson is as relatable as they get. Responses to the first Childhood Obesity News post about Wilson showed that the audience identifies with her and, yes, is inspired by her.

Carnie Wilson has gone on record calling food not only a coping mechanism but her best friend. She has described sugar as her downfall and is familiar with the idea of food addiction. The familiarity comes from the experience of unhooking from alcohol and then falling prey to “addiction transfer.” She told Fox News:

I always think I am one of the … millions and millions of people that struggles with an addiction to food. I don’t know how to relax, that’s my problem. I can’t smoke a joint, I can’t have a glass of wine because I want 10 joints and 10 glasses of wine. That’s my obsessive compulsive and addictive behavior. I’ve really struggled since I’ve become sober.

She also told a reporter that she had expected, after bariatric surgery, that at least some part of her obsession with food would fall away. That hope was a great incentive because, as she expressed it, “I could not satisfy my cravings, ever.” Wilson has described herself as a “born addict.” Is there any science behind that assertion? It all depends. Researchers at the University of Utah say:

No one is born an addict…. Social and environmental factors contribute to this risk of addiction. It is becoming increasingly clear that genetic factors also weigh in…. Various genes and environmental factors can add up or cancel each other out. Not every addict will carry the same gene, and not everyone who carries an addiction gene will exhibit the trait.

A woman who was considering surgery and who used language similar to Wilson’s wrote to Childhood Obesity News, “Food is my friend and companion.” Dr. Pretlow’s answer to the reader was:

If you had a friend, who was causing you to develop significant health problems, would that be a friend you would want to keep? Remember that it is not every food that is addicting, mainly highly pleasurable foods, that are also comforting.

There are groups out there like Food Addicts Anonymous and Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous, who can help you break your addiction and find a new friend, who does not hurt your health. These groups are free and have meetings in every city.

Why didn’t Carnie Wilson pursue the avenue of un-addiction further, rather than opting for a second surgical procedure, and then relaxing into the role of plus-size fashion spokesperson as if it were inevitable? The fact that people ask these questions in public forums is a large part of the problem. For an overweight celebrity, there is no such thing as privacy, and the fans not only expect answers but also expect to be part of the decision-making process. Everybody thinks he or she knows what is right for you, but only you know the full story of the inner struggles you face daily.

And what about the kids? No matter how carefully a mother considers, she will inevitably say something that could devastate her child. Will Wilson’s words about the difficulty of losing pregnancy weight scar her daughters forever? What about the Fox News headline “Carnie Wilson Says Her Weight Is Back Up, Sees Herself in Her Daughter”? The Wilson quote that inspired the headline was:

I see Lola loving sugar like all the other children but I also see her pay a little more attention like when there’s a birthday party, I see her being the first in line to get the cake. I see me in her.

Every time the family visits a farmers’ market, somebody with a camera is available to track their progress through the aisles and crates. Online commenters freely speculate on the probable (fat) fate of the girls. If either daughter achieves prominence in any field, it is certain that photographers will stalk them relentlessly, eager to document every pound lost or, even more newsworthy, every pound gained.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “QA: Carnie Wilson Says Her Weight Is Back Up, Sees Herself in Her Daughter”, 01/01/12
Source: “Genetics Is an Important Factor in Addiction,” Genetic Science Learning Center,, 2013
Image by NatalieMaynor


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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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