Different Strokes for Different Folks


The concept of a one-size-fits-all solution to obesity has pretty much vanished. Fortunately, the multi-disciplinary solution has stepped up to make some sense out of the whole mess. Late in 2013, the Obesity Society, American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology teamed up to publish a set of guidelines for doctors, to help them manage overweight and obesity in adults.

In order to glean the most current recommendations, 133 recent studies were examined. The subtitle of Nanci Hellmich’s article expresses the conclusion succinctly:

New guidelines say that there is no ideal diet — whatever works to help obese patients lose 5%-10% of their body weight.

Committee co-chair Donna Ryan told the reporter that the objective is “to get primary care practitioners to own weight management as they own hypertension management.” If such help were available everywhere and all patients could afford it, the ideal program would be “delivered by trained interventionists (not just registered dietitians or doctors) for at least 14 sessions in the first six months and then continue therapy for a year.”

Of course these intensive therapeutic resources are not available to everyone. But many people, Ryan says, can benefit from phone- and web-based interventions, and even from commercial weight-loss programs. Just like with individual reactions to foods, it’s different strokes for different folks. There are satisfied customers enough to endorse just about anything, because they sincerely believe it worked for them, even if some other dynamic was in play.

An interesting innovation

South Dakota State University has designed a program especially to produce desperately needed childhood obesity experts. It is based on the premise that:

The cause of childhood obesity is multifaceted and strategies to prevent and treat it need to be transdisciplinary.

It pulls from the Health and Nutritional Sciences department, whose students include aspiring nutritionists, registered dieticians, athletic trainers, occupational therapists, physical therapists, community and public health administrators, PE teachers, and managers and administrators in sports and recreation.

Graduate students in any of those fields have the choice to go after a TOP certificate, which stands for Transdisciplinary Childhood Obesity Prevention. The faculty includes experts who introduce additional perspectives from early childhood education, nursing, counseling, and statistics.

As a corollary, the program teaches that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to obesity, because its answers are drawn from “evidence based transdisciplinary approaches to prevention.” According to the program’s literature:

Experiences gained as a TOP student will prepare graduates for collaborations with individuals in other disciplines in a career aimed at reducing childhood obesity…. Students will obtain a TOP program certificate upon completion of the requirements for both the certificate and the Masters or Doctoral degree from their respective college.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Doctors urged to treat obesity like any other ailment,” USAToday.com, 11/12/13
Source: “Transdisciplinary Childhood Obesity Prevention (TOP) Graduate Certificate Program,” SDState.edu, undated
Photo credit: andreypopov/123RF Stock Photo

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Profiles: Kids Struggling with Weight

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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.

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