“Everything You Know Is Wrong” Roundup, Continued


Nope, yesterday’s post was not the end of the collected “everything you know is wrong” posts, a fact which in itself emphasizes the restless and ever-fluctuating state of the art. Here are half a dozen more examples of how the certainties of the past become the mysteries of today, and vice versa.

Everything we are so confident about knowing just may be a heap of mistaken, outdated notions about, for instance:


The food issue is tricky. On one hand, there is no doubt that manufacturers knowingly inject their products with chemical enticements to keep the consumers coming back for more. And it is very difficult to make any reasonable kind of argument for such laboratory-spawned perversions as high fructose corn syrup.

On the other hand, there are multiple arguments for fresh, honest, untampered-with produce, and for making a real effort to see that it is available and affordable everywhere. It’s just that ending obesity may not be one of those arguments.

Is everything we know about causes wrong?

The Healthy Eating in Practice Conference, organized by the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project and designed for physicians and other healthcare advocates, will take place August 26-29 in North Carolina. The curriculum includes farm visits and cooking workshops. The literature describes it like this:

Grounded in experiential learning, this national conference will equip attendees with practical skills and approaches that work in the day-to-day reality of healthcare.

Undoubtedly, good ideas will be shared — but will they help to end obesity? Is the obesity epidemic ultimately about the food or the eating? Without question, a person with a choice in the matter should eat an apple instead of a pack of cookies. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, she or he knows it. But will this knowledge end the obesity epidemic? It hasn’t so far.

This can be said in a lot of different ways, but here is how Childhood Obesity News Content Director Steve O’Keefe puts it,

The assumption that unhealthy eating is the cause of obesity is deeply ingrained in the modern psyche.

Potato chips and chocolate-covered bacon contain numerous calories and not a heck of a lot of trace minerals or anything truly admirable. And yet, in a world brimming with irresistable treats, there are still many fit people, so how can that be explained? The basic question is what leads Dr. Pretlow to fear that programs like this might represent “a tragic waste of energy and resources.”

If the manner and frequency of eating are unhealthy, those factors can negate many of the benefits that are gained by good nutrition. Furthermore, people with eating disorders are quite likely to shun such healthful regimes as the plant-based diet. Good food can’t solve their problem if they can’t be enticed to eat it.

Poor diet is often a matter of choice, and the reasons why people make that choice are rooted in emotional dysfunction, psychologically maladaptive responses, and social expectations and constructs that are hard for even the most motivated person to challenge.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Photo credit: Adam Collins on Visualhunt/CC BY-SA

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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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