The Manly Art of Portion Weighing


This discussion follows on from “Food Portions — Why Weigh?” In developing the W8Loss2Go addiction approach for weight loss, Dr. Pretlow has noticed that some kids resist a technique that really works. He says:

The app incrementally reduces their amounts and instructs them how much to take off or add to their plate in real time. They claim that they don’t have time to weigh their meals, even though in a survey 3-5 minutes was the mean time kids in the study said it took to weigh a meal using the app and the Bluetooth connected food scale. Other reasons given were being embarrassed for anyone to see how much they ate or even admit to themselves how much they ate…

Young people, and boys especially, can be very intolerant of anything that seems like fussing. Taking a bit from the scale, adding a bit — in some culturally misshapen corner of their minds, they might as well crochet a doily, because to aim for precision is somehow emasculating. Fussing is something that grannies do.

This is, of course, a misapprehension. Aiming to get it just right is a desirable characteristic in any field, and an adept counselor can help lead a child to see that. Our relationships with electronic devices demonstrate the truth. If you want the machine to do something and it wants a certain combination of letters and symbols entered, it will only accept that combination and no other. Even a black-hat hacker needs to know what buttons to push. Sometimes a person has to back up and give it another go.

A musician will generally make the effort to tune a guitar correctly. Of course, anyone is free to flaunt a slaphappy attitude in this and many other fields, but the results will not be pleasing. A drummer is arguably the most macho brand of musician, and guess what? Even percussion instruments need to be tuned. A drummer will devote time and care to the process, and anyone who implies that he is anything less than a stud might end up wishing they had kept their mouth shut.

Attention to detail matters

Obese youths may not spend much time on skateboards, but they know enough to grasp the principle. The smallest misjudgment or misapplication of speed or balance can bring disaster. For a science-minded kid, the importance of getting it exactly right should be an open and shut case. Of course accuracy matters!

For an older teen, being stopped for Driving Under the Influence can go two very different ways, depending on how well the measuring instrument has been maintained. You’d better hope that someone took the trouble to check its accuracy. As previous generations used to say, “The devil is in the details.” Or “God is in the details.” Either way, the concept is clear. Attention to detail matters.

In military boot camp, personal belongings have to be arranged just so. Anyone who thinks it’s stupid shouldn’t be there. Ask yourself, “Who do I want working in the office my paycheck comes from? Or doing a field tracheotomy on me? Some bozo who can’t fold his underwear right?”

A hunter hoping to shoot an elk from 800 yards had better employ precision. When 250,000 people show up to watch a car race, both drivers and fans expect every member of every pit crew to be on top of their mechanic game, which includes very precise calibration.

In other words, it is possible to plant the idea that seeking precision is not a trait of elderly women only. Fortunately, some adults have the ability to convey such ideas in ways that young people can relate to. Another thing that adults can do is place an appropriate amount of confidence in the efficacy of peer pressure. Certain kids are natural leaders, and if they come to believe that doing things well is cool, hip, or whatever the current expression is — they are capable of exerting enormous influence on their age-mates.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Image source: Weigh2Rock

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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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