Goodbye to Pleasure?

Washington Post staff writer and “lifetime food fanatic” Laura Reiley interviewed a patient who had lost 55 pounds on tirzepatide (Mounjaro). Branneisha Cooper told the journalist, “I thought everyone woke up thinking about breakfast, lunch and dinner. In the past I tried everything to lose weight, but the food voice would always win.” People trying to escape obesity have even mentioned how they can’t even enjoy their dinner properly, because of obsessing over the anticipated dessert.

Childhood Obesity News has said a lot about the part played by new drugs in the industry’s recent success with stifling food noise. But Reiley was made uneasy by the fact that her source’s “food voice” had ceased its chatter. She wrote, “I find the silence ominous.” Why? Because,

I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around a higher quality of life that doesn’t have food and its many pleasures at the center of it all.

Think of all the holidays a disinterest in food would kill: Thanksgiving, dead. Christmas and Passover, major body blow. And all those other universal things? Birth and death and love and sex? Food had a place in every one of them.

Reiley also points out the role that food plays in important social interactions: when it’s time to welcome new neighbors, make an apology, offer condolences, support the lonely elders, show appreciation to a host, and so forth. She writes,

Cooking for someone is an act of love completely different from doing their laundry or driving them to the airport. It’s about giving pleasure, not doing a solid. Cooking someone a meal is a way of saying: I see you, I’m paying attention, I know what you like.

The food writer feels empathy for the food adventurers, always ready to sample some new flavor or texture. Why should they forego this happiness, just because others want eating to be a boring task instead of a celebration? Reiley does not want to see the day when food has become just physical fuel, instead of so many other things — like pleasure. She reminds readers,

Satiation is but a small part of the driving force behind this consumption… If this class of drugs rewires our brains and guts to think of food as just sustenance, the world will be so sad.

The author connects all this with a rare and pertinent autobiographical detail — she was a marshmallow girl. This refers to the renowned Stanford Marshmallow Test Experiment conducted decades ago by psychology professor Walter Mischel and quoted countless times since.

This and other academic experiences convinced him that, as Reiley phrases it, “One’s ability to quiet the wanting mind is a central ingredient in the recipe for success.” That sounds a lot like what we now call shushing the food noise.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Food is one of life’s great pleasures. Will weight-loss drugs end that?,”, 10/02/23
Source: “Stanford Marshmallow Test Experiment,”, 09/07/23
Image by Lua Pramos/CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED

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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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