Does Addiction Cause Childhood Obesity?

[montage of junk food]
[montage of junk food]
This site covers the social, political, economic, and health impacts of childhood obesity. A common thread that runs through our site is the exploration of food addition. Food addiction remains a controversial topic; many are in denial it is even possible. Yet being an obese child is a major contributor to debilitating diseases and even premature death.

The Case for Food Addiction

Processed Foods and Fast Food
We are surrounded by hyper-palatable, processed foods. These foods have high combinations of sugar, salt, and fat. They may also contain chemicals that encourage repeated consumption. All of these substances can be interpreted by the brain the same circuits as alcohol and drugs. This combination can be disastrous for young brains and their development. (Do major food companies care? That’s another discussion!)

Read more about topics related this issue:

It’s Official: Food Addiction is Real
Childhood Obesity and GMOs
Sugar, Addiction, and Sugar Addiction

Politics and Regulation
The notion of “personal responsibility” is fair when discussing adults. But is it fair to assert that on children, or on addicts? Should we implement more legislation to protect our children? Where do we as a society draw the line? Or, do we need some other other approach, such as making our streets more walkable and bike able to encourage healthier lifestyles?

Read more about this hotly debated issue:

Whatever Happened to the Cheeseburger Bill?
How Effective is Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” Campaign?
Stop Federal Corn Subsidies to Decrease Childhood Obesity

Shame of Addiction
As a society we don’t talk about food addition in part because it hasn’t been formally recognized by the DSM-5 — although gambling addiction was recently added. As a society we still largely and collectively moralize addiction as a character flaw rather than a chemical dependency. We hope this site helps change that perception and provide empathy for children fighting with their weight. Unfortunately, fat acceptance can hurt, too.

Thanks for joining us. We look forward to your comments here.

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Profiles: Kids Struggling with Weight

Profiles: Kids Struggling with Obesity top bottom

The Book

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.

Food & Health Resources