Can Pad Tag Solve Childhood Obesity?

karate kick at sunriseWorld Karate Champion Johnny Linebarger is based in Tucson, where he teaches martial arts. He wants to fight childhood obesity by sharing with the world something the KoSho Karate school franchise has known about for 20 years—Pad Tag, which he calls “a fun and exciting game that gets people of all ages up and moving, naturally and easily, running, hopping, jumping, dodging, kicking and laughing their butts off.”

What’s not to like about that? Furthermore, by this time next year he wants to see a million people playing this hybrid of tag, dodgeball, and soccer, and created a Kickstarter campaign to make it happen. (It just ended, as this was written, and the funding effort was not successful.)

Previously, Reddit contributor “Narayume” had explained why it might be a terrible idea for kids who already would prefer a broken leg if it would get them out of PE class. Running, hopping, jumping, dodging, and kicking are all at the bottom of their Favorite Pastimes list, and while some people on the gym floor might be laughing their butts off, it won’t be the fat kids. Narayume says:

The last thing most of these kids want is competition and a super fit adult lording over them…

Most of these kids likely are petrified of sports, because they are terrible at it and are letting their team down, while also being mocked and in danger of physical pain and injury. Without the endorphin rush or a competitive streak sports can be seriously un-fun.

Which is why the comment suggests that Linebarger may be unqualified to build such a game—because he “clearly enjoys exercise and gets all the right happy hormones from it.” In other words, he is perceived as being nowhere close to the same wavelength or mindset as the kids who hate sports. Convinced that although obese kids might be coerced to play Pad Tag at school, they would reject the notion of playing it elsewhere, Narayume writes:

A solution to the obesity epidemic is desperately needed, but it won’t happen while sports lovers assume that everyone is just like them and just need to really try sports to get into it…

Instead someone needs to help these kids find an exercise or form of movement they enjoy—no matter if it is Kinect Zumba or LARP or just walking or dancing or…anything else really.

In that same discussion thread, another respondent wrote about his own super-conscientious lifestyle in a way that was kind of humorous but also braggy. This inspired Narayume to tailor separate replies for the general audience and to the self-described super-fit person:

Assuming one size fits all is dumb and this guy assuming that overweight kids just need more PE to finally get fit is stupid and demonstrates a severe and embarrassing lack of knowledge and understanding of the problem and the kids involved.

Your way of life is lovely for you, I am sure, but it is not going to get someone fat to change their ways, because to them it sounds like hell.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “World Karate Champion Wants 1 Million People Fighting Childhood Obesity Through Play,”, 06/30/15
Source: “World Karate Champion Wants 1 Million People Fighting Childhood Obesity with Outdoor Game Padtag (,”, 2015
Image by bluesbby

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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.
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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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