Edutainment and Jim Gaffigan’s Books

Two questions: What is more entertaining than comedy? Other than humor, what could more effectively be matched up with education, to produce the hybrid genre known as edutainment?

Although standup comedian Jim Gaffigan came from a large family, he did not really envision himself as a potential father. He married relatively late, at 37, and currently has five children. His New York Times bestseller, Dad is Fat, is said to be parent-oriented, and more about kids than fat.

Still, if it provides even one helpful insight related to childhood obesity, that would be more than most books do. Any time the subject of excess weight creeps into an American home, the atmosphere becomes fraught. Many parents find obesity more difficult to talk about than sex.

Gaffigan reminisces about the Yuletide season in his childhood when his own mother gave him McDonald’s gift certificates, also known as “coupons for poison.” He goes on to say,

McDonald’s introduced the gift certificate prior to the obesity epidemic. I’m not saying that McDonald’s gift certificates caused the obesity epidemic, but in retrospect, the timing is kind of suspicious.

Another Gaffigan publication is Food: A Love Story, which encompasses a different kind of awareness, to the point where a fan calls it “A book on totally embracing all your food sins.”

In person, the comedian/actor/author is not svelte, and invites his audiences to join him in laughing at his circumference. This makes him the perfect candidate for the job of obesity conversationalist because, as he points out,

If a thin guy were to write about a love of food and eating I’d highly recommend that you do not read his book.

He describes himself as not a “foodie” but an “eatie,” and defends himself by asserting that he tries to stick to three meals per day… “and three more at night,” a peculiarity that actually is widely shared in not only this country but many others. Gaffigan loves cheese, and he does not care who knows it. The exception is American cheese, which he says tastes worse than the plastic sheets that separate the slices. His attitude seems to be regretful self-acceptance, combined with empathy for others who are equally stuck in their ways.

Other roads

Other comedians take different paths, like Lisa Lampanelli. Formerly known as a roast comic and the Queen of Mean, she created a 90-minute live show called “Losin’ It” to provide encouragement for people and help them find humor in their struggles with weight and body image issues.

Actor and comedian Ron Funches lost around 150 pounds, and has maintained for years. His podcast “Gettin’ Better” provides a marvelously supportive and positive atmosphere for listeners who share the same health and fitness aspirations that brought him out of his slump.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Dad Is Fat,”, undated
Source: “Jim Gaffigan, Food: A Love Story,”, undated
Image by JPAvocat/CC BY 2.0

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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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