Roundup: Quality of Life


Last month, Childhood Obesity News posted a guide to some of the archived posts concerning quality of life. There are more! Today, we look back over some interesting angles on the quality of life experienced by obese children and teenagers, and how that quality can be improved.

For instance, one group of researchers determined that a school-based weight management program could work, if correctly implemented. That means an intensive, instructor-led course; none of this self-taught or parent-taught stuff. In addition, one-year and two-year followups showed that the good results from the intensive, instructor-led type of program tended to stick.

In testing the W8Loss2Go smartphone app, Dr. Pretlow noticed resistance among some of the young participants. Talks revealed that a kid might have been overweight for so long she or he just got used to it, and even developed a fatalistic attitude that disallows the possibility for change.

We asked why obese young folks will pour their hearts out via anonymous forums, surveys, etc., and yet “take the 5th” in a person-to-person setting. Sometimes, a person will grow up and talk later, when school is a distant memory of “merciless cruelty.”

Quality of Life Studies” and its sequel discuss some of the original research projects that have formed current opinion about quality of life among the young and obese. A classic study compared obese kids to young cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment, and the observations included an interesting sidebar about the parents of obese kids: They rate their children as even more unhappy than the children rate themselves.

Is it possible that parents overreact to a situation in which they themselves would be miserable, but where some kids seem comfortable? Perhaps mobs of overweight and obese children and teens will rebel against the the adults, chanting “We’re okay, go away!” Do we have that science fiction movie to look forward to?

Scientists are trying to get a handle on the whole cause-and-effect thing. Does the physical condition of being overweight or obese make a child’s quality of life decline? Or does the messed-up life come first, so the child eats and puts on weight in reaction? As so often happens, the answer is both. Some kids never have a chance; they are born overweight and it only gets worse. The younger it starts and the longer a young person stays overweight, the less chance there is to ever reverse it.

Of course, the other scenario happens too. A normal-weight child winds up in the wrong circumstances and, suddenly, food is their only friend. A vicious cycle can start with fatness and then become emotional distress, expressed by eating to “stuff” the feelings, but naturally that leads to more flab, and so on.

Or emotional disturbance can turn people fat who never were before, and then they are even more upset, so a sturdy and resilient vicious cycle is constructed. Either way, it is a disastrous whirlpool to be caught in.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Photo credit: VFS Digital Design via Visualhunt/CC BY

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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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