Fatlogic Marches On

A Matched Set

Childhood Obesity News has been exploring fatlogic, the peculiar and counterproductive mindset that affects people the world over. Examples of fatlogic can be found in many places, but Reddit is a goldmine. Here we learn that some people suffer from a mysterious undiagnosed condition (which Reddit humorists mock by calling a “condishun”) that causes unlimited weight gain without causing any other health problems. Someone who has grown too obese to wash properly might convince himself that hygiene is not that important anyway – especially since nobody is apt to get close enough to mind. Only an obsessive anorexic would count calories, and who wants to give themselves OCD?

A person can fall prey to a deluded defeatism. Many people have heard that 95% of smokers who quit on their own will return to the habit, and they extrapolate this to a conviction that 95% of all people who attempt weight loss will fail – so what’s the use? Why even try? Or someone might think, “Tomorrow, I start a new program to treat my food addiction – so today, I’d better eat all the foods I will miss the most.”

Early Intervention is Key

Professionals who deal with the childhood obesity epidemic have many different theories and approaches, but on this they unanimously agree – prevention is much better than cure. The earliest possible prevention is the best of all.

Studies have shown that on a cellular level, a body acclimated to being overweight is difficult to persuade into metabolic normality. It wants to continue to do things the way it has done them in the past. As time goes on, the destructive biological processes become more powerful. For this reason, it is important not to let a child ever become accustomed to obesity. Many studies have shown how prenatal influences affect obesity, and once you start down that path, speculation can go back for generations, to the dawn of time.

Currently, science can’t do much about heredity. But the thought patterns that make up fatlogic can definitely be addressed and influenced. The mental component is such a big part of any problem, any solution, any success. How we think about things can make all the difference.

This animated graphic, created by N.A. Christakis and J.H. Fowler, is titled “The Spread of Obesity in a Large Social Network Over 32 Years,” but it was recommended by another website as an illustration of how fatlogic spreads. As one critic pointed out, correlation is not causation. Nevertheless, it is true that ideas can be contagious, and also true that some ideas – especially those of the self-justifying kind – can be hazardous to a person’s health.
A Reddit thread asked people to share their once-cherished fatlogic beliefs, and inspired this exchange:

brazil84 I believed that things like non-fat potato chips were helpful for weight loss.
PudgePlugger I thought Doritos were totally a healthy chip because, after all, 0g trans fat!
brazil84 Unfortunately food companies have gotten very good at enabling fatlogic.
PudgePlugger Doesn’t help when you’re just a kid and no one tells you it’s wrong.

Reddit user BlackThornOfLove believed:

That I was broken and the only way to lose weight was to starve.
That I’d be forever cursed to either starve or be fat… I wish someone had told me when I was younger that I’m not cursed, and if I ate like a normal girl, I would be the size of one.

But what happens when the perception of “normal” changes? A typical answer, from user momo_303, says:

I remember my middle school self thinking about my obesity and happily announcing that I found out what was wrong: I wasn’t fat, I was just an average sized American.

That reply goes a long way toward explaining the rationale for a lot of fatlogic. If a child looks around and most people within sight are overweight or obese, it is understandably easy to conclude that big is normal. In America, we are taught that the majority is right, and normalcy is good. The sight of so many obese people seems to mean that the vote is in, and fat is normal – so, what’s the problem?

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “/r/fatlogic,” Reddit.com
Source: “The Spread of Obesity in Social Networks,” YouTube.com, February 4, 2010
Source: “What Fatlogic Did You Believe in the Past?,” Reddit.com, November 5, 2014
Image by Tony Alter

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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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