Growth Not Always Good

This cannot be said too often: Childhood obesity almost inevitably leads to lifelong obesity. Somehow it needs to be nipped in the bud, and preferably without coercion or any other violation of children’s human rights. It is not surprising that the motives and methods of weight-loss proponents (and opponents) are sometimes questioned. The following quotation is relevant:

According to the CDC’s most recent obesity numbers, the state with the highest obesity rate is Mississippi, with an obesity rate of 40.8%. Mississippi also has the shortest life expectancy among all states at 74.5 years. West Virginia has the second-highest obesity prevalence at 39.7% and the second-lowest life expectancy of 74.8 years.

It does not take a genius to put it together: There is a very direct correlation between obesity and a needlessly truncated lifespan.

Who should be in charge?

The previous post looked at some of the diverse opinions surrounding the concept of requiring, or even asking, that schools should keep tabs on children’s obesity status. As it turns out, opinions are available from even more sources. A California study published by JAMA Pediatrics looked at “6,534 elementary and middle school students in at least the 85th BMI percentile,” reports MedPage Today staff writer Elizabeth Hlavinka. She explains,

Children have become increasingly weight conscious over the past several decades and public health interventions designed to alert or remind families of children’s weight status may not be having their intended effect…

The parents were sent body mass index report cards and the followup study did not show impressive results in terms of weight loss. It could seem like this approach is a waste of time, energy, and financial resources, in addition to squandering goodwill that might have otherwise accrued to grownups who only tried to help.

A very strong faction believes that the promotion of healthy behavior counts for a lot more than an obsession with pounds or calories. UC Berkeley’s Dr. Kristine Madsen told the journalist,

The way you talk to parents about children’s weight status really matters. Using terms like obesity with families of young children is completely demoralizing and it’s not at all effective.

An interest in weight perceptions and weight loss behaviors caused a team led by Francesca Solmi, Ph.D., of University College London to study three generations of children:

Researchers […] found youth’s weight loss behaviors increased in a stepwise fashion from 1986-2015, and more youth saw themselves as overweight in 2015 versus 1986, regardless of their actual weight.

Some of those young subjects had depressive symptoms, particularly the girls. Hlavinka reminds readers, parents and professionals alike, that overweight kids are rarely allowed to forget their fat. Harping on the subject can’t help, especially when the afflicted are not offered useful alternatives.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Most Obese States 2021,”, undated
Source: “Some Policies Aimed at Childhood Obesity Aren’t Cutting It,”, 11/16/20
Image by Micah Sittig/CC BY 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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