Dr. Pretlow Interviewed About Controversial PSA

Atlanta Panorama

A couple of years back, Childhood Obesity News discussed the Georgia anti-childhood obesity billboards. Created by the Strong4Life program founded by Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, they were criticized as tasteless and too judgmental.

So much attention was focused on the billboard/poster campaign that few people remarked on a 1-minute, 41-second video PSA the group released around the same time. “Rewind the Future” didn’t garner much attention at first, but recently it suddenly did. It starts with a patient being readied for surgery. He weighs about 300 pounds and just had a heart attack. We are shown scenes from his earlier life, going farther into the past each time. Here is how Cristina Goyanes of Shape.com describes it:

As the flashback continues, Jim’s mom enters the picture. At first, she seems caring, gifting him an at-home treadmill to help him lose weight. Rewind a little more, and the story shifts. Rather than encouraging her son to be healthy, as she does later, Mom is doing the opposite, picking up fast food for him, buying him candy from a vending machine, letting him eat sugary cereals for breakfast, and feeding him French fries.

Now everybody’s talking about the video’s shock value and alleged fat-shaming. It is a factor worth being sensitive to. The Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity has determined that behavior change is not effectively motivated by stigmatizing people. More to the point, the short film is parent-blaming. Still, not everyone is upset. Its proponents describe “Rewind the Future” as bold, and the topic deserves boldness. Writer Beth Greenfield quotes an online comment from an unnamed doctor:

Obesity is perhaps one of the worst comorbidities to have for a hospital patient. It complicates everything. Every. Single. Thing.

“Rewind the Future” just wants to raise awareness and encourage people to make some changes, even small ones. And by people, they mean parents. An honest parent will admit there are times when you will do just about anything to get a child to stop fussing. Some parents have even found themselves struggling to appease a difficult child as if offering sacrifices to a raging monster from a horror movie.

A parent can take a very positive and useful step toward avoiding that situation. Parent Effectiveness Training and other courses can teach parents how to cope in those moments of temptation. Feeding a child is not the only way to get some peace and quiet. The Strong4Life website offers parenting tips from a page that also says:

As parents (and humans), we’ve all made decisions that didn’t look too good in hindsight. But today, right now, we have an opportunity for a life changing do-over…. if your children are still children, it’s not too late.

The Shape.com writer Cristina Goyanes also interviewed Dr. Pretlow, who confirmed that parents often play a role in enabling a child’s obesity. Please do visit and enjoy “Are Parents to Blame for Obesity?”

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Shocking Anti-Obesity PSA Sparks Debate,” Yahoo.com, 08/12/14
Source: “5 Tips for Powerful Parenting,” strong4life.com, undated
Source: “Are Parents to Blame for Obesity?” Shape.com, 08/15/14
Image by Tim Dorr

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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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