To Build Consensus, Part 4

We have an exciting announcement, but first, here’s a refresher to bring anybody up to date on the ins and outs of BrainWeighve. The work of testing and tweaking is ongoing, but in such an ambitious project, that part is just a “given”. So here is the announcement:

The BrainWeighve app clinical trial at UCLA has been launched! Yaay!!! There will be two 3-week beta tests with 8 participants each, followed by the 4 month main trial.

And of course, “Stay tuned!”

Back to consensus

It is no coincidence that Dr. Pretlow’s recent presentation at a WHO Expert Workshop describes the method of treatment that BrainWeighve delivers. To quote from the 26-minute talk,

Theoretically, moving the opposing drives or behaviors out of equilibrium by avoiding or resolving the person’s problem or stressful situation should mitigate the displacement mechanism and stop it from firing, and the addictive behavior should cease.

Although its principles apply across the board, BrainWeighve is especially focused on eating addiction. The smartphone app intervention helps kids (or grownups, for that matter) to identify the problems and stressors that form the basis of opposing drives, and then works with the user to create strategies to deal with them.

A slight digression

Dr. Pretlow mentions that the addiction field emphasizes the reinforcement-reward mechanism. However, rewards are notoriously fickle. What a cruel joke it is, when the dependent person learns that the pleasure wears off. If there is one thing we know about heroin addicts, it is that they need increasing amounts of the drug in order to reach the desired stage of oblivion. But before long, the desired effect is no longer to be had, and they’re shooting up just to avoid getting sick. Some reward!

As Dr. Pretlow has said,

We acknowledge that the reward mechanism is a central component underlying addictive eating behavior, but we posit that rewards (e.g., pleasurable food sensations and celebrations) rather act as cues to trigger the displacement mechanism, leading an individual to lose control over eating, once started.

While it may be possible that some food could be addictive to some person, the “substance” in this case is nowhere near as powerful as many other substances. It’s the eating that is addictive.

As Dr. Pretlow says, “It’s not the cues (taste, texture, temperature), it’s the displacement (biting, chewing, licking, sucking, crunching, swallowing). Displacement is the brain’s goal. Nevertheless, cues (stimuli) are essential to trigger the displacement mechanism.”

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

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Profiles: Kids Struggling with Weight

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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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