Allen Carr, Food, Eating, and Weight


Childhood Obesity News is thinking about Allen Carr, who helped tens of millions of people to quit smoking. As we described, he branched out into other areas of human bondage, including weight loss, because compulsive eating is in many ways similar to compulsive nicotine use. This was foreshadowed in his first book, The Easy Way to Stop Smoking — the one that put him on the map.

On Page 27, we find an in-depth meditation on the similarity between eating and smoking, and the many differences. Eating and smoking, he says, are in fact exact opposites:

1. You eat to survive and to prolong your life, whereas smoking shortens your life.
2. Food does genuinely taste good, and eating is a genuinely pleasant experience that we can enjoy throughout our lives, whereas smoking involves breathing foul and poisonous fumes into your lungs.
3. Eating doesn’t create hunger and genuinely relieves it, whereas the first cigarette starts the craving for nicotine and each subsequent one, far from relieving it, ensures that you suffer it for the rest of life.

Here is a bit from page 55, where he talks about bad eating habits:

The pot-belly appears so gradually that it causes us no alarm. We look at people who are grossly overweight and wonder how they could possibly have allowed themselves to reach that state. But supposing it happened overnight… You would be panic-stricken, wondering what awful disease you had contracted overnight. Yet the disease is exactly the same. The fact that it took you twenty years to reach that state is irrelevant…

Carr adopted his dietary principles from the authors of Fit For Life, by Harvey and Marilyn Diamond, who got them from the Natural Hygiene movement that dated back to the mid-1800s. In terms of acceptable foods, Carr’s food recommendations align closely with what is now called the Paleo diet. There is also mention in the literature of an eating style called “flexitarian,” and a suggestion that natural eating will necessarily involve less meat and dairy.

Three eating-related books are credited to Carr: Allen Carr’s Easyweigh (or Easyway) to Lose Weight, Good Sugar Bad Sugar, and No More Diets. Others have been created since his death, including The Easy Way for Women to Lose Weight and Lose Weight Now.

Apparently, the movement to use Carr’s method really took off in Britain after his death, when his colleague John Dicey became determined to do something about the growing threat of diabetes. According to the official website, the “Good Sugar, Bad Sugar” program…

[…] has already cured sufferers of Type 2 diabetes, enabling them to “eat themselves back to health” without any need for supplements or medicine.

The FAQ section even seems to promise an answer for relapse:

You’ll be shown a strategy to help you break through your fears and easily deal with anything that may previously have led to temptation. This is done using powerful psychology aimed at the conscious mind, reinforced at the end of the seminar by light relaxation.

The pertinent section of the official website speaks of weight loss and sugar addiction programs. The various delivery systems are on-demand video, live seminars, private seminars, and private online seminars.

In the latter two modalities, the client and facilitator interact one-on-one. Unlike the smoking, drugs and alcohol programs, the weight loss/sugar addiction program does not offer a money-back guarantee because “it’s simply not possible to establish a way of managing that.”

A full page covers the question, “How do I quit eating and craving junk food?” It encompasses eight points, but most of them just describe what should not be consumed — the addictive sugar foods, carb foods, junk food, and sugar drinks.

There is a warning that moderation, with these substances, just doesn’t work, no more than occasional chipping will work for the heroin addict. The last two items are:

#7. When what you consume is nutritionally bankrupt you overeat and crave it…
#8. Quit putting junk food into your body and the inclination to eat it disappears…

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Easy Way to Stop Smoking,”, 1999
Source: “Are you struggling to adopt a ‘flexitarian’ attitude to eating?,”, January 2017
Source: “Read book but attend a seminar,”, undated
Source: “How to lose weight with Allen Carr’s Easyway,”, undated
Source: “How do I quit eating and craving junk food?,”, March 2018
Photo credit: Internet Archive Book Images via Visualhunt/No known copyright restrictions

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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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