A Winter Holidays Encyclopedia — 7

As the title hints, this is part of a series dedicated to the review of some life-enhancing and maybe even life-saving notions from previous years, along with new and additional perspectives.

In any society, there are social occasions that can be both joyful and traumatic. The vast majority of feast days derive from the calendars of various faiths, and they have a lot in common. For one thing, family dynamics don’t vary much from place to place. Some are toxic, some are smothering, some are ice-cold, and so on, ad infinitum.

One of the subheadings from this post repeats an eternal question: “What do you call yourself doing?” At least, it should be eternal, something we ask ourselves frequently. We probably all recognize that there are moments when it would be smart to stop and self-interrogate: What, exactly, do I call myself doing right now? As the old saying goes, “Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it.” Honesty with oneself is one of the most difficult life skills to master, and there is no time like the present, to practice.

Something about this season brings the serious problem of childhood obesity into special awareness. But is this a public relations failure anyway? With even the most alarming childhood obesity stories, isn’t it possible that any potential impact on public awareness is lost in the wilderness of news?

Still, conscientious family members worry. They can’t help it. Unfortunately, the last thing a struggling child needs is to feel scrutinized by the eyes of numerous relatives. They are doing the math in their heads — “If Junior keeps gaining at this rate, he will hit the scale at 500 pounds before the first hair sprouts from his chest.”

This is not the life we want for our kids or ourselves. But is more legislation the answer? What about taxes on sugary beverages? Can the ad industry be trusted to police itself?

In our compassionate society, much is made of the sadness of someone alone for the holidays. But the thing about people is, being with others can be just as much of a problem. Even psychologists, trained therapists, and members of the clergy find get-togethers to be problematic. Not coincidentally, the same can be said of the human tendency to eat based on feelings, rather than rationality. Nobody, however smart or educated, is immune.

If someone with virtually infinite resources, like Oprah Winfrey for instance, is unable to permanently shed body fat, what hope is there for any of us? This encourages a number of other questions, too.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Image by Isaac Bowen/CC BY-ND 2.0

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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.

Food & Health Resources