Childhood Obesity — Will Russia Win This War?

Russian Dolls

“War on childhood obesity” is a phrase that has been bandied about in the media for some time now. One example is a short interview that Fox Business recorded with Jake Steinfeld, chairman of the National Foundation for Governors’ Fitness Councils. What exactly is meant by this figure of speech?

“I’m into giving schools the tools,” Steinfeld says — the main tool being a fitness center in every school. He talks about a six-year program in California that he says has shown many benefits, not just in the area of obesity, but by building confidence and self-esteem. The program is even said to have decreased teenage pregnancy. Here is a quotation:

We’ve declared war on childhood obesity.… [T]he only way I see to do it is with the public and private sectors, with companies like Coca-Cola who step up and say ‘We want to help, we want to give back….’

At this point, a person might be tempted turn off the video and contemplate the possibility. Can a soft drink corporation — especially one that has achieved world domination in ways Alexander the Great only dreamed of — really give back the health of millions of people whose bodies have already been altered by contact with its products?

Let’s pause for a few words from comedian Swami Beyondananda:

Problems aren’t solved, they’re attacked. Like the War on Poverty. Remember that? I’m happy to report that it’s finally over. The poor people have all surrendered. And take the War on Drugs — How many billions have they spent? My solution is cheaper and more effective ….. improve reality!

The Swami is so right about the “improving reality” part. This is what treatment for food addiction must do if it is to be successful — help the person undergoing treatment to improve her or his reality to the point where comfort eating and stress eating are no longer attractive options. There are programs — such as Dr. Pretlow’s W8Loss2Go — designed to do exactly that. The idea here is to help children and teens achieve and maintain their ideal weight without feeling that they themselves are the enemy being warred against. Maybe it’s time to lose the war comparison — which might, paradoxically, help to win the war itself.

For many years the United States and the USSR struggled for world leadership in a cold war that threatened more than once to become a very hot war. Now the “war on obesity” is being waged, and if the premises inherent in this news article are valid, it looks like Russia is way ahead of America in this one. For the complete chain of reasoning and all the details, please see Ellen Brown’s piece, of which the most essential paragraph is:

Russian families are showing what can be done with permaculture methods on simple garden plots. In 2011, 40% of Russia’s food was grown on dachas (cottage gardens or allotments). Dacha gardens produced over 80% of the country’s fruit and berries, over 66% of the vegetables, almost 80% of the potatoes and nearly 50% of the nation’s milk…

Why does this matter so much? To answer that question, Brown quotes Vladimir Megre, founder of the back-to-the-land movement known as Ringing Cedars:

Essentially, what Russian gardeners do is demonstrate that gardeners can feed the world — and you do not need any GMOs, industrial farms, or any other technological gimmicks to guarantee everybody’s got enough food to eat. Bear in mind that Russia only has 110 days of growing season per year — so in the US, for example, gardeners’ output could be substantially greater. Today, however, the area taken up by lawns in the US is two times greater than that of Russia’s gardens — and it produces nothing but a multi-billion-dollar lawn care industry.

(to be continued)

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Jake Steinfeld: We’re declaring war on childhood obesity,” Fox, 09/24/13
Source: “Swami’s 2003 State of the Universe Address,”, 01/15/03
Source: “Monsanto, the TPP, and Global Food Dominance,”, 11/27/13
Source: “The Story of the Ringing Cedars,”
Image by Colin Smith


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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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