More Alleged Obesity Villains

Many substances have been suspected of contributing to childhood obesity, and antacid medications are among them. A 2018 report warned that young children who are prescribed drugs meant to prevent excess stomach acid “may be at heightened risk of obesity.” Moreover, “this association strengthened for each 30-day supply prescribed.”

The possibility of a cause-and-effect relationship was based on the medical records of more than 333,000 children under two years old. Like all honest research papers, this one included caveats:

Although the largest study of its kind, it is nevertheless observational, and as such, can’t establish cause. And potentially influential information on how much the children’s mothers weighed, and whether they smoked or had other underlying conditions wasn’t available.

Another wrinkle was suggested by pediatric gastroenterology researcher Gail Cresci, Ph.D., RD, of Cleveland Clinic, who speculated that the problem might lie in interference with the microbiome:

Antacids take away the first line of the body’s defense against ingested pathogens by decreasing gastric acidity which can destroy many of these pathogens. Obesity is known to be associated with ‘low grade’ inflammation. This then may allow the pathogens to reach the distal intestine and then alter microbial diversity.

Is grilling guilty?

Another obesity villain suspect may be the food preparation method known as grilling, which is very popular in many circles.

A recent study has found that a common chemical produced by grilling foods may play a significant role in causing obesity, type 2 diabetes, and insulin resistance. This has to do with a suspected obesity risk factor known as AGEs, or advanced glycation endproducts. One of these endproducts is MG, or methylglyoxal, a compound that causes mice to “gain a significant amount of weight to their abdomens” and impairs the body’s own inflammation response. There are also carcinogenic byproducts. According to the study,

Over the four generations, the mice that were fed a diet with MG had more body fat [than the control group] and developed early insulin resistance… The abdominal fat in mice fed MG was converted into fat cells that prevented the metabolism of glucose and impeded fat turnover. This inhibited process, in turn, contributed to the development of insulin resistance and diabetes.

But like many stories, this one has two sides. An uncredited, undated piece from makes the claim that grilling has an “inherent weight loss benefit” because the fat cooks out and drips down into the grill, rather than pooling around the meat and being resorbed into it. This is said to reduce a person’s fat intake “significantly” or, according to a similar website, “dramatically.” The public is also reminded that fish and vegetables (low-fat and no-fat) can be deliciously grilled.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Childhood antibiotics and antacids may be linked to heightened obesity risk,”, 10/30/18
Source: “Antibiotics, Antacids Linked to Obesity Risk in Kids,”, 11/11/18
Source: “Grilled Food May Lead to Obesity and Diabetes,”, 08/21/21
Source: “Weight Loss Benefits and Other Advantages of Grilling Food,” undated, uncredited
Image by woodleywonderworks/CC BY 2.0

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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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