Sometimes You Don’t Know What to Think

For anyone who wonders exactly how many pediatric patients were prescribed weight-loss drugs in 2023, the headline “Doctors Gave 4,000 Kids Weight-Loss Drugs In 2023” might seem to promise an answer, but similar to many headlines, it leaves out an essential fact. Are these 4,000 kids in the USA, the Northern Hemisphere, the membership of the World Health Organization, or what? (Presumably, it is inside the United States, and in reference to research published in January of this year.)

In the same article, journalist Julianna Frieman names Dr. Joan Han of the Mt. Sinai Health System as an endorser of the idea that “changing one’s lifestyle is often fruitless in fixing obesity due to the significant role of genetics.” Like so many other obesity-related topics, that one has large numbers of both supporters and detractors.

Dr. Han gives a rationale that is often heard from others of the same mindset, especially when they have additional reasons to favor bariatric surgery or a pharmaceutical solution:

It would make sense that sheer willpower is not necessarily going to fix excess weight gain.

Here’s the problem. It may be a Straw Man or it may be Begging the Question, but that statement involves a fallacious premise, namely, that there is only one other possible answer besides drugs or surgery, which would be the Sheer Willpower Cure. If that were the case, it would be reasonable to concede, “That’s right. The Sheer Willpower Cure does not seem to be effective.” But that is not the case at all. Exploring a program like BrainWeighve, for instance, reveals that it suggests and facilitates many additional choices besides Sheer Willpower.

Contemporary relevance

However, the reason for bringing it up now is that it relates to the general question of how and why the “trendy” GLP-1 drugs are prescribed. The reasons are many, and the attempts to make them stand are sometimes less than scholarly and far from impartial. But other times, one has to ask oneself, “What’s wrong with that?”

As an example of the genre, and the sometimes very positive reports, semaglutide is credited with the ability to reduce cardiovascular risks in a particular subgroup:

It is the first such approval from the Food and Drug Administration for a weight loss drug. The approval comes after a five-year study found Wegovy led to a 20% reduction in heart attacks, strokes, and cardiac arrest…

Granted, this is only in one patient demographic, “obese patients over the age of 45 who have heart disease,” but still…

Other suggestions

Only a couple of weeks ago, Dennis Thompson reported on the British initiative to encourage more movement among school-age children. The Active Movement program requires no fancy equipment, gym attire, or specialized environment. It encourages the kids to stand up when speaking, and walk around in the classroom more. Somehow, overall, it encourages 10% more participation in voluntary sports activities and an 8% reduction in the children’s waist-to-height ratio.

Not only that, but senior researcher Mike Loosemore is quoted as saying:

Our results show that reducing sedentary behaviors during school time can be an effective obesity-reduction strategy for primary school children who are overweight. What’s even more encouraging is that this method was effective regardless of the child’s socioeconomic status, age or gender. It is something that schools could introduce without needing to invest heavily in equipment or staff, and everyone will benefit.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Doctors Gave 4,000 Kids Weight-Loss Drugs In 2023,”, 02/21/24
Source: “United States of Ozempic: Where anti-obesity drugs are taking off,”, 01/18/24
Source: “FDA approves weight-loss drug Wegovy for reducing cardiovascular risks,”, 03/09/24
Source: “One Way to Reduce Child Obesity: Get Kids Moving More in Class,”, 02/27/24
Image by John K. Thorne/Public Domain

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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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