Move More, Eat Less

There is more to consider about calories and their role in health, especially in weight control. We saw how animals are becoming fatter — not just pets and feral animals, but even the ones whose diets and activities are rigidly controlled by human intervention.

A general trend toward bigness is overtaking the human population, too. Here is a quotation about Edward Archer, Ph.D., of the Nutrition Obesity Research Center and Office of Energetics:

Archer says that previously there were no valid theories as to why children are becoming so obese so rapidly, and that the common notion of “moving too little and eating too much” is simplistic and leads to the stigmatization of a large portion of our population.

Childhood Obesity News has mentioned science writer David Berreby, who also uses the word “simplistic” to describe the credo of “eat less, move more.” For backup, he quotes a professor of child nutrition, Jonathan C. K. Wells, who has looked into the particulars of how easy it would be to lose weight, if only the four-word saying could encompass the totality of what is going on, which apparently it cannot. Wells talks about a study which indicated that when someone takes in only 30 calories per day more than they burn, serious weight gain can result.

But then, wouldn’t that seem to imply the converse? That creating a deficit of that same daily 30 calories should lead to serious weight loss? Except, it doesn’t, as hundreds of thousands of “starvation diet” veterans will attest. Berreby writes,

Given what each person consumes in a day […] 30 calories is a trivial amount: by my calculations, that’s just two or three peanut M&Ms. If eliminating that little from the daily diet were enough to prevent weight gain, then people should have no trouble losing a few pounds. Instead, as we know, they find it extremely hard.

As always, this debate over “eat less, move more” has larger implications. First of all, there is nothing wrong with the idea, up to a point. Many, many people would be much better off, in general, if they ate less and moved more. It’s not like anyone is encouraging gluttony and laziness.

But wait. Actually, the manufacturers and advertisers of highly processed foods are proponents of gluttony and laziness. They are also big fans of the concept of personal responsibility, which translates as, “Look, nobody forced you to buy our so-called food products, so we take no blame for anything the stuff does to you. People are fat because they want to be, and if they die from it, they made their own choice.” That is the party line.

Even though eating less might be a good idea in most cases, and even though moving more might be good idea in most cases, neither of those practices can fix everything and everybody. “Eat less, move more” has a nice ring to it. But as Berreby points out, “What we don’t know is whether the theory is actually correct.”

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Novel Theory Connects Mothers to Childhood Obesity: Evolution Is the Cause, and Moms Are the Cure,”, 11/17/14
Source: “The Obesity Era,”, 06/19/13
Image by BY-SA 2.0

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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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