Peripheral Professions in Obesity Treatment


Childhood Obesity News talked about how technology is helping doctors learn the difficult art of telling parents that their child is obese, among other things. Also, once the parents grasp the essential fact that the child needs attention and help, how does a primary care physician decide what advice to give them, when respected experts in the field can’t come to an agreement over something as simple as whether eggs are acceptable to eat or not?

We mentioned an innovative program that produces free-standing childhood obesity experts, who can perhaps assume an expanding role in relieving doctors of some of the burdens associated with diagnosing and treating kids in this all-too-prevalent kind of trouble.

A food addiction treatment option

FAI/ACORN Food Addiction Professional Training is a three-year program created by the Food Addiction Institute and administered by ACORN Food Dependency Recovery Services in Florida. The curriculum, directed by Philip Werdell, MA, has the following description:

This is a three-year experiential program focused on learning food addiction recovery from the inside-out, assisting experienced food addiction professionals, and developing ways to make a unique contribution to food addicts and the field of food addiction.

The program emulates the training regime developed for the staff of the residential eating disorder and food addiction treatment program at a renowned psychiatric hospital. Apparently, to even get into the FAI/ACORN, a person has to be a recovering food addict. The trainees participate in the program first as clients, second as assistants to experienced staff members, and then as co-professionals, while demonstrating their professional competency to work on their own.

After the three years, then what? Private practice is an option. A graduate opened Gladness House, a recovery venue in Philadelphia, exclusively for food addicts. One might also become a food addiction coach or consultant, and in these capacities, work in league with physicians to serve the obese community.

Immersive simulations

SIMmersion‘s pitch is that it “builds highly engaging systems featuring interactive simulations, dynamic educational content, and extensive feedback.” They offer training in, among many other things, victim advocacy, autism social conversation, and alcohol screening. They can teach a nurse how to talk with adolescent patients about marijuana use, and coach a manager in the technique of obtaining an admissible confession from a suspected embezzler.

Like the computer-aided role-playing setup we recently described, SIMmersion uses the techniques of motivational therapy. But their method is a big step up, because this company employs highly trained individuals who pretend to be whatever is needed. Just as in group therapy or an acting class, the role-player takes the client through archetypal clinical scenarios that are destined to occur in real life.

The company’s clients are drawn from not only healthcare, but the military, legal, law enforcement, business, management, social, and education fields as well. For medical professionals, applications include:

Dealing with difficult patients; palliative care and bereavement counseling; talking to child and adolescent patients; patient compliance; treating patients from different cultures; underage drinking; HIV/AIDS counseling; mental health diagnosis; differential diagnosis; and talking to patients about health risk behaviors.

Several of those categories could be useful to the doctor wishing to interact most effectively with obese patients, even young ones.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “FAI/ACORN Food Addiction Professional Training,”, undated
Source: “Solutions,”, undated
Photo via Visualhunt

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Profiles: Kids Struggling with Weight

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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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