Road, Meet Rubber

Here are more highlights from a series of posts about smoking, drinking, and problem eating. Solutions have been proposed and tried. Are the answers like wheels that only fit one vehicle, or can they be swapped around?

“Smoking and Eating Disorders — It’s Complicated”

As the title indicates, looking at the connections between these two problems can lead a curious person down a rabbit hole of impressive proportions. A side issue is the questionable reliability of self-reporting. In studies of such matters as smoking and binge eating, people reveal the secrets about practices and habits they have been taught to be ashamed of. Surely there are mingled emotions and mixed agendas.

For the sake of human decency, researchers are not allowed to set up just any situation they might take a notion to investigate. Often, self-reported data is what they must settle for. Science disparages “anecdotal” accounts in individual cases, but collectively, a large number of anecdotal reports constitute a study.

On the subject of eating disorders, here are some of Dr. Pretlow’s thoughts:

I don’t believe it’s necessary to attribute dependence on highly pleasurable foods (food addiction and resulting obesity) to a direct biochemical effect of food substances, such as sucrose or fructose, on brain chemistry. Fast sensory signals, e.g. taste and texture, acting on the brain are enough to induce dependence. Bulimic individuals immediately purge foods eaten, yet still become addicted to the foods.

Fast sensory signals, e.g. taste and texture, acting on the brain are sufficient to induce dependence. For example, bulimic individuals immediately purge foods eaten, yet still become addicted to the foods.

“Smoking, Overeating, and Breaking Up Their Powerful Coalition

In discussing tobacco control, the term “multiple facets” comes up again, as it so often does in the field of health. As key elements in their success, anti-smoking experts name clinical intervention and management, regulatory efforts, economic strategies, educational tactics, and a simultaneous combination of all those.

“Smoking and Eating Disorders — Their Strange Relationship”

A multi-author meta-analysis with ties to 15 institutions set out to determine exactly how prevalent smoking is among people with eating disorders, versus the proportion in the general population. Among other odd facts, researchers learned that lifetime smoking is associated with binge eating disorder and bulimia nervosa, but very sparsely with anorexia nervosa.

This is the kind of tantalizing clue that keeps scientists excited. Five years from now, that distinction may turn out to be the key to the whole obesity epidemic. Of course, another study disputed that one. There is plenty of work to do.

Oh, and by the way, smoking your way to slimness doesn’t work.

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Profiles: Kids Struggling with Weight

Profiles: Kids Struggling with Obesity top bottom

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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