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Dietary Fat as Obesity Villain

December 14, 2010

Junk Mail Collage
Let’s see what Dr. Mark Hyman, founder of The UltraWellness Center, has to say. We have quoted him before, by the way, on the subject of food addiction. He and Dr. Pretlow share an interesting characteristic. Neither of them are prejudiced against what some medical practitioners dismissively call “anecdotal evidence.” On the contrary, they are anxious to hear from patients. Listening to patients is the whole basis of Dr. Pretlow’s Weigh2Rock website, where kids contribute their personal experiences to the general pool of knowledge. Following the same philosophy, at the end of this article, Dr. Hyman asks his readers several questions, including, “What seems to trigger weight gain for you?” and “How have different diets worked for you?”

He begins by tearing down the comfortable fairytale that some of us tell ourselves, about how we just can’t help being overweight because it runs in the family. If that were so, the overall rate of childhood obesity would have been the same all along, rather than increasing so drastically.

Obesity genes account for only five percent of all weight problems… In the 1980’s not one state had an obesity rate over 20 percent. In 2010, ONLY one state has an obesity rate UNDER 20 percent. This is not a genetic problem.

Dr. Hyman is enthusiastic about the work of Harvard Medical School’s Dr. David Ludwig, and in fact calls Dr. Ludwig’s book, Ending the Food Fight, “the first and only roadmap for dealing with our exploding childhood obesity epidemic.”

Body fat, as it turns out, is not mainly determined by dietary fats. On the surface, this seems counterintuitive. After all, each gram of fat that we eat contains 9 calories. Plus, we’ve been told and told that eating fat causes us to become fat. But really, what makes the difference in both overall weight, and the particularly dangerous sign of disproportionate waist size, is the individual’s response to sugar and carbohydrates.

For this reason, Dr. Hyman believes in the crucial importance of the glucose tolerance test, which apparently few doctors order for their patients, or if they do, they don’t interpret the results correctly. Under optimal conditions, it can pinpoint not only the cause of a person’s obese condition, but their risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Hyman says,

This test is cheap, easy to do and it is probably the most important test for determining your overall health… It tests your insulin level. You have to check it after drinking a sugary beverage that contains 75 grams of glucose. This test has shown me more about my patients than any other test.

The object is to discover if you are a high or low insulin secretor, because insulin does two things: stimulates hunger, and causes the body to store belly fat. So, after you drink the glucose goop, blood is drawn at timed intervals. The insulin and blood sugar in each specimen are measured, and it all adds up to your individual insulin profile.

If you’re a high insulin secretor, sticking to a low-fat diet makes your situation even worse. Why? Because the increased secretion of insulin makes you crave sugar and carbohydrates, which leads to eating all day long. Dietary fat, on the other hand, is what our grandparents called “stick-to-your-ribs” kind of food. The body needs to take in a certain amount of fat in order to realize that it’s been fed, so the craving for food will be satisfied, and the little voice that says “Eat eat eat” will shut up for a while.

A high insulin secretor needs a diet of whole, unprocessed foods including (gasp!) dietary fat. Eating a low-fat diet will not help your obesity, and will indeed make the weight problem worse. To put it another way,

Dr. Ludwig also found that the patients who ate a low glycemic load diet — which lowers blood sugar and keeps insulin levels low — had much higher levels of HDL “good” cholesterol and much lower levels of triglycerides. It appears that the best way to address your cholesterol is not necessarily to eat a low-fat diet, but to eat a low glycemic load diet, which keeps your blood sugar even.

Janet Paskin covers much the same territory in “Fat is where it’s at,” pointing out that after years of “low-fat” dining that failed to make a dent in the nation’s obesity problem, even the American Heart Association had second thoughts about dietary fat, and changed its recommendation about how much of it is good. She quotes a number of authorities, on the futility of trying to fool Mother Nature.

The only person we’re fooling is ourselves, when we see a processed food label that proclaims “low fat” or “no fat” and then proceed to chow down. Because instead of fat, now we’re loading up with sugar, starch (which converts to sugar), and weird chemicals. Paskin says,

In our effort to avoid the demon lipids at all costs, we’re forever tinkering with our diets—substituting Snackwells for Oreos, dry toast and a glass of orange juice for a plate of bacon and eggs—in hopes it will keep us skinny almost effortlessly. But these dietary contortions often have unintended consequences. They inspire us to eat more food…

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “ Why Eating a Low-Fat Diet Doesn’t Lead to Weight Loss ,” HuffingtonPost, 07/03/10
Source: “ Fat is where it’s at ,” OdeMagazine, 07/09
Image by JenTheMeister, used under its Creative Commons license.


Television Advertising and Childhood Obesity, Part 5

December 13, 2010

Television stencil

Would you be surprised to learn that we have talked about TV before? Not with a title like this one! And you probably wonder what there could possibly be more to say about the immense amount of money spent by food corporations that relentlessly fill our kids’ heads with visions of sugarplums. Is there anything left to reveal about the subliminal messages planted in their little brains? Haven’t we heard enough about the relationship between childhood obesity and a sedentary lifestyle?

The answers are no, no, and no. There is always more to learn and more to deplore. Elena Serrano and Cindy Barden of the Virginia Cooperative Extension took on the task of rendering more reader-friendly the study compiled by Ann A. Hertzel, Mick Coleman, and Elaine D. Scott of the same institution. The results were an overview of what happens when food, children, and electronic media intersect. The researchers considered the effects not only of network television, but music videos, video games, and computer use in general.

Some of their findings are not very surprising. By the time they grow up, most kids will have spent more time contemplating a TV screen than paying attention to a teacher. Expressed in such general terms, this idea loses some of its punch. But when specific numbers come into play, things get interesting. For instance, did you know that the average high school graduate will have seen 360,000 TV commercials? That’s a lot of brainwashing. Now, add in this:

Food is the most often advertised item on children’s television. Most of these ads are for products high in fat, sugar, or salt. Fast foods are also very heavily marketed to kids. Children who spend more time watching TV tend to eat more calories; fat, sweet, and salty snacks; and drink more soda. They also eat fewer fruits and vegetables.

Little kids ages two to six have been found to be extremely vulnerable. They only have to see a commercial once or twice to start forming very strong preferences for the stuff that’s advertised. As Liz Snyder once wrote,

[… M]ost kids have strong emotional ties and ‘brand loyalty’ to every disastrous food choice made by a handful of junk-pedaling food companies.

Serrano and Barden explain that children as young as three can follow a storyline and tell one character from another in a TV show. By six or seven, they have a grasp of behavior and relationships and “moral messages” as delivered by the plots of television programs. But they’re not yet able to comprehend levels of meaning, symbolism, satire, and other more adult concepts, and it doesn’t occur to them to practice any kind of formal criticism of what they see and hear.

Young children don’t have the mental filters that separate fact from fiction. They are very open to suggestion, and prone to believe that Product A will make a person popular, Product B will bring a person delirious happiness, and if Mommy doesn’t buy you Product C, it means she doesn’t love you. They’re soaking up messages that encourage the continual ingestion of food-like substances that are inimical to health.

But that’s not the only way in which electronic media contribute to childhood obesity. A kid who’s collapsed in a heap, staring at a screen, is obviously not moving around burning calories. Metabolism slows down to the equivalent of sleep. Television time is also prime time for snacks. Thousands of images of people eating, drinking, eating, drinking, and eating, while watching TV, are burned into their retinas, and they go forth and do likewise.

Consequently, we wind up with a whole lot of fat kids, like the ones in Dr. Pretlow’s presentation, “Why Are Children Overweight?” Consider the kid who says, “I hate my life” (Slide 4), and the one who says, “I hate looking in the mirror, it’s the saddest part of my day.” (Slide 9.)

Serrano and Barden also pass on the recommendations made by the research team, such as limiting electronic media to two hours a day (good luck with that one.) Parents are asked to make TV-watching a family activity, with the grownups standing by ready to interpret and challenge. Discussion is encouraged, so parents can get a line on exactly what notions their kids are picking up from programs and commercials, and counteract them if necessary.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Kids, Food, and Electronic Media,” Virginia Cooperative Extension, 05/01/09
Source: “Real Food, Real Kids, Real Love: 10 (surprising!) ways to raise a healthy eater,”
Image by *USB*, used under its Creative Commons license.

Big Bottoms, Wide Loads, and Childhood Obesity

December 10, 2010

Wide load

The Council on Size & Weight Discrimination (CSWD) has issued a statement of its position on obesity, discrimination, prejudice, equality, business best practices, false advertising, economic exploitation, negative publicity, and other aspects of the airline seating controversy. The CSWD also suggests several varieties of consumer and citizen activism for those who feel that the airlines need to change their ways.

We have talked about oversized seats in theaters and airplanes, and even about coffins for the obese. And we have also mentioned that Dr. Pretlow’s Weigh2Rock website poses monthly questions in a poll. One question that has been asked, and answered by both obese kids and healthy-weight kids, is, “What do you think about making seats wider for cars, buses, planes, & theaters because more people are overweight?”

Each poll suggests multiple-choice answers, and in this case the kids voted 37% in favor, 40% against, because such a move only encourages people to be overweight, and 22% against, on the grounds that it’s not fair for healthy-weight people, who must pay part of the cost.

Of course, the poll respondents can add any thoughts they care to in the comments section. An overweight 19-year-old looked back on a school career that included trouble fitting into classroom seats. Another obese teen girl said,

Most of my weight is settled in my butt, so I think this would be a great idea because I can name a handful of occasions where I’ve nearly been stuck in seats.

A 289-pound teenager wrote,

I think it’d be the nice thing to do — we are people too and want to do normal things.

An overweight 16-year-old girl replied with an episode from her life, when she had been accidentally sat on and squashed by a very obese blind woman. A slim 11-year-old once felt very bad because her obese father, who went on an amusement park ride with her, couldn’t fit into the seat. A 16-year-old male, weighing well over 400 pounds, remarked that he has always needed two seats, and a 14-year-old girl wrote of her embarrassment at not being able to fit into movie theater seats, so she had to go to the movies in the next town. A young woman weighing nearly 300 pounds contributed this:

I barely fit the plane seatbelt. It was my whole fear on the way to the airport that I wouldn’t be able to fit and would have to ask for an extender. Also, I can’t go to amusement parks and ride roller coasters bc most of the seats are too small. I waited an hour in line at Kings Island and had to walk the stairs because I was too big. It was the most embarrassing moment of my life.

On the other hand, healthy-weight girls were brutally forthright about their objections. These remarks came from three different slim young females:

That would be utterly disgusting. Seats are a normal size right now for a reason.

Per-lease! That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. Smaller seats encourage weight-loss, if people are fat it’s their fault and THEY should do something about it. Or maybe people should be forced to pay extra taxes if they are determined medically overweight, or if their children are determined medically overweight.

To be brutally honest, we need to stop accommodating obese people so much… If they just left the seats the same, maybe it will be a wake-up call for some to lose the weight.

A girl who gave her weight as 314 pounds wrote, hopefully with tongue in cheek,

This is fantastic, I used to have to buy two seats for everything. Now I can carry on stuffing without having to worry about extra costs.

A 265-pound boy replied, we also hope, in a sarcastic spirit:

Best thing ever I love being fat now I can gain and gain and gain and be the fattest kid in the world.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Airline Seating,”
Source: “Poll #57,”, 02/06
Image by danehav (Robin Danehav), used under its Creative Commons license.

News Cycles, Economics, and the Ergonomics of Obesity

December 9, 2010

Every now and then, the subject of wide seats will float to the top of public consciousness. It came up again earlier this year, when a group called Theatre Projects Consultants speculated about whether, at an average of 22″, the seats in performing arts centers are wide enough. Obesity was not their only concern in rethinking this. As blogger “hellochris” notes,

Of course, the expansion is not all about weight. The report also says that the average man is five inches taller than he used to be. And audiences have come to expect more leg room and more ‘personal space.’

There are other factors, too. An old-school attitude dictates that there is only one correct way to pay attention, sitting up straight, looking straight ahead. Some people in the theater business don’t want audiences at their serious plays to fall asleep, so the chairs must not be too comfy. And, of course, there are economic considerations, as we’ve discussed in an earlier post on the ergonomics of obesity.

Relatively few people attend theatrical plays at performing arts centers, but almost everybody has to fly at one time or another. Last year, several American airline companies announced that obese passengers would be charged more if they couldn’t fit into a single seat. Average seat width is a fraction over 17″. This article gives the helpful tip that the widest coach-class seats on international flights (19″) are found in planes flown by Singapore and Qatar airlines. An even more helpful tip is the link to, where clicking “charts” will lead the viewer to information about seat width.

Frequent business traveler Ed Hewitt tells us what he has learned from Boeing researcher Klaus Brauer. Seat width per se is not the most important factor in comfort, whether a person is obese or has healthy weight. What a person really wants is nobody occupying the adjoining seat. Hewitt writes,

The airlines can give us more leg room, wider seats, more headroom, better sightlines, but little else matters when that middle seat is empty… The best way to make sure that middle seat is empty is to fly offpeak, and avoid all rush hours. Midday flights, Saturday afternoon flights, and off-season flights on popular routes are good bets.

Most wide-seat requirements are mundane, and there are businesses that specialize in extra-large office chairs, wheelchairs, and bicycle seats. But seating is not the only issue. An obese person just might be forced to buy two burial plots. Megan Bedard learned from the good folks at Goliath Casket that oversized coffins no longer need to be special-ordered and custom built. They now keep coffins on hand that are 52″ wide, nearly double the standard measurement. This will accommodate a person of up to 1,000 pounds.

The plus-size coffin works well for the occupant, but not so well for the living. Such a box is difficult to maneuver through doorways, and, of course, it cannot be carried by the human pallbearers. For the trip to the cemetery, it will not fit into a hearse, so machinery comes into play, loading the casket onto a flatbed truck. Bedard also reveals a grim possibility that very few of us have probably thought about:

Many cremation facilities cannot accommodate an extra large body, and even if they could, the amount of fat on an obese person’s body makes cremation very difficult.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Bigger Bottoms Mean Bigger Theatre Seats,”, 07/16/10
Source: “Overweight? Here’s how to find which airlines have widest seats,”, 04/19/09
Source: “The Shrinking Airline Seat,”
Source: “A Grave New Trend: Caskets Get Bigger to Fit the Obese,”, 06/18/10
Image by MrAnathema (Joe Abbruscato), used under its Creative Commons license.

The Childhood Obesity Perfect Storm, Part 6

December 8, 2010

Rain Storm

In America, we are so immersed in food, it’s ridiculous. Sure, not everybody can afford it, but it’s out there. Everywhere we turn — in the house, in the school, in the church, in the movie theater — food is staring us in the face. What Dr. Pretlow wants to know is,

How will we make the transition from a culture of highly pleasurable, potentially addicting foods, to which kids are exposed, to a food-for-nutrition based culture?

It won’t be easy, that’s for sure. Changing a whole society is a tall order. It’s difficult enough for even one person to change things in their own life. We’re looking at a typical advice article, called “How to Eat Healthy Snacks to Help Lose Weight,” by Jennifer Glennon, and it includes this advice as Step 1:

Remove any and all snacks that are in your pantry and refrigerator that does not fall into the healthy snacks category. If the unhealthy snacks are not in your house, you will not be tempted to reach for them…

That’s not a bad idea, for a single person who lives alone. But what if you live with a spouse who doesn’t have an obesity problem, and wants to keep junk food around the place? Or an actively sabotaging spouse who feels threatened by your interest in self-improvement? Well, you can always get a divorce and move out.

But what if you’re a child or a teenager, with no control over the contents of the family kitchen? And even if you’re lucky enough to have understanding and cooperative parents who are willing to help by stocking the refrigerator with raw carrots and the cupboard with rice cakes, there is still a big world outside. We talked about the controversy over legislation controlling public schools and their role in warning parents about their children’s incipient obesity problems. Schools do have the responsibility, if they serve food, to make sure that food is nutritious. And they should probably stop allowing vending machines to sell junk food and soda pop.

Still, kids spend only a certain amount of time on the school grounds. The world is full of drugstore chains, supposedly places that promote health, but they are filled to the rafters with junk food. Supermarkets and convenience stores are open around the clock. Here is a comment made by a mom, in response to a previous Childhood Obesity News post, about her son:

He’s not overweight at all, and he doesn’t have much processed food available to him at home. But, now 14, put a dollar in his pocket and he’s at the nearest convenience store buying sugar water. Giant bottles of sugar water. I wish we could limit the volume of crap kids buy at the store without parental supervision.

And, of course, there are the fast food joints. We also mentioned the “geography is destiny” study done at the University of Leeds, which confirmed that kids get fatter if they live or go to school in proximity to Burger Kings and Dairy Queens. Recently, Gloria Goodale reported from the historically significant town of Baldwin Park, California. This is where the very first drive-through fast food restaurant opened in 1948. Now, the city of not even close to 100,000 residents has 17 drive-throughs, and decided not to let any more be built for nine months. Of course, with the economy in the shape it’s in, there might not have been any such business startups planned anyhow. But it’s a nice gesture.

In his presentation, “Why Are Children Overweight?” Dr. Pretlow quotes a teenage girl who weighs 560 pounds and eats at McDonald’s every day (Slide 47). In Overweight: What Kids Say, he includes charts that show how the number of fast food restaurants in America has increased, and how childhood obesity has increased during the same time period. The coincidence is very striking. He would definitely like to see the banishment of fast food outlets from areas near schools, but that’s not likely to happen. Even if such a law were passed tomorrow, there are still thousands of pseudo-food dispensaries that would be grandfathered in.

These establishments are one element of the childhood obesity “perfect storm.” Maybe if everything else was just peachy, and the only problem we had to worry about was the proliferation of fast food joints, the childhood obesity epidemic would not have occurred. But that’s what a “perfect storm” is — a combination of events that create a synergy, a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. Now, Dr. Pretlow says,

The perfect storm has morphed into a ‘fire storm,’ which will be unbelievably difficult to extinguish — particularly with the food companies continually pouring gasoline on the flames.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “How to Eat Healthy Snacks to Help Lose Weight,”, 09/17/08
Source: “Birthplace of the Drive-Thru Bans Them to Curb Obesity,”, 08/02/10
Image by travlinman43, used under its Creative Commons license.

Uncontrollable Cravings and Food Addiction

December 7, 2010

Copy of Fotosearch_is946-043

Every social problem sooner or later manifests a person who embodies it, what the media calls “giving it a human face.” Among the confessions and pleas for help that have been posted in the Comfort Eating discussion at Weigh2Rock, the communications from some of the young folks are destined to stand out for different reasons. One of these extra-noticeable kids is Amanda, a young lady who has responded many times, and very energetically. A person could almost be tempted to use a term like “the poster child of food addiction and childhood obesity,” except for three things.

First, anonymity is preserved at Weigh2Rock, so kids can feel comfortable talking about their obesity issues. Obviously, nobody would put the actual Amanda on an actual poster. It’s just a figure of speech. Second, obesity is not in the same category as a permanent condition, like cerebral palsy or spina bifida. Obesity need not be an immutable destiny. Third, it would be a disservice to Amanda to single her out. Hers is certainly not the most extreme case of either childhood obesity or food addiction.

Amanda is just a kid who started out at a certain weight, and set herself a destination weight. Rather than slimming down, she has gotten heavier. Amanda has not advanced toward her goal. Instead, things have gotten worse, and her lively remarks trace the course of a young woman who becomes increasingly frustrated. Fourteen years old, with tipping the scales at over 300 pounds, she writes:

When I went OVER 200 I thought that was so huge and it couldn’t get ANY worse! Going over 300 seemed IMpossible! Now I would LOVE to only be 200…

In her various posts, she enumerates the everyday difficulties encountered by an obese young person:

I feel so HEAVY its like carrying a MOUNTAIN all the time!!! UnFaIr!!!
EXERcise is OUT of the QUESTION because of my WEIGHT.
The AIRcondtionING went OUT and won’t be fixed until THURSday or FRIday! It’s so hot I can’t STAND it!! I’m SWEATing like CRAZY and I can’t even take a NAP because it’s too HOT to sleep! I’m BURNing up because my FAT is like 20 COATS I can’t take OFF!!
ALL I want to DO this SuMmEr is SLEEP. I’m happy to not have to WALK around…

Going to school is a strenuous and humiliating experience:

I can barely FIT into the desks at school. They PUSH on my stomach but I DON’T want to sit at a table! That would be SO EMBARASSING! My ankles and knees HURT so much just walking between classes.
I’ve alREADY been LATE THREE times in a MONTH because of GETting TIRED. The WORST is when I have to WALK across the WHOLE school to get to MATH class and then CLIMB up the STAIRS because its on the SECond floor! It’s REALly HARD to go UP the stairs because walking made me TIRED alREADY and my StOmAcH is so HEAVY!
When I get to MATH I’m too TIRED to listen and I’M DUMB in MATH anyWAY so I might FLUNK.
In SCHOOL I can’t even LISTEN because of how UNCOMFORTable it is to be SO HEAVY but ALL I want is to go HOME and have ICEcream or COOKies to feel BETTER.
Today I could barely concentrate at school because of the CRAVEing for THANKSgiving dinner.

Ah yes, the cravings:

WHY is it SO hard to resist CRAVEings??? I’m SUFFERing with all this WEIGHT but I still HAVE to eat what I’m craveing!
The LONGer I wait when I get a craveing the MORE I eat
I try to talk MYself OUT of CRAVEings but I have to EAT to stop going CRAZZZZZY! How do I STOP CRAVEings but without willPOWER because I don’t have THAT!
I don’t deserve so many PROBlems just because I can’t reSIST CRAVEings!
I hate CRAVEings!

Rohi Shetty is a doctor who has published several articles on weight issues. Recently, Shetty reviewed a book by Dr. Neal Barnard, the title of which is Breaking the Food Seduction: The Hidden Reasons Behind Food Cravings. Shetty says,

Recent research studies have proved that chocolate, sugar, cheese, and meat trigger biochemical effects similar to those of tobacco, alcohol, morphine and heroin. They are not as strong or dangerous as opiate drugs like heroin but seem to act through the same chemistry of addiction.

Dr. Barnard reports on studies which indicate that the pharmaceutical drug Naloxone, which acts on the brain’s opiate receptors, can help food addicts. Dr. Barnard also offers a seven-step program to defeat cravings.

As we have mentioned before, Dr. Pretlow has of course also addressed the subject of food cravings in Overweight: What Kids Say and in his presentation “Why Are Children Overweight?

Getting back to Amanda, desperation is evident in all of her posts:

Things are going REALLY bad for me! I think I’m ADDICTED to FOOD, I read about that on the web but what can I do??? I TRY to eat RIGHT but I go CRAZY until I eat stuff that TASTES GOOD!
I know I NEED to stop OVEReating, but I TRY my BEST to diet and CAN’T!
I try to TALK myself OUT of OVEReating but it DOESN’T work!
HOW can I stop BEing ADDICTed to FOOD????

One very noticeable feature of Amanda’s journey is that she often mentions the unfairness of her condition. That might be something a therapist would pick up on and want to work with. Being stuck in resentment over the unfairness is a major obstacle. “Fair” doesn’t enter into it. We can try to create more fairness in the world. We can work for laws that guarantee that the members of our society are treated fairly. We can take personal responsibility for being as fair to others as we possibly can. But life is, basically, unfair.

If I could be Amanda’s fairy godmother and wave a magic wand to change one thing, that’s the gift I would give her: the understanding that life isn’t fair, and that’s how it is. It’s just something that a person needs to understand before any further progress can be made. Get over it, and move on.

What Amanda has going for her is her own recognition and acknowledgement that she truly suffers from food addiction. This is very promising, because once the problem is identified as addiction, it can be treated. There are programs, and there are other kids on hand who have successfully escaped their addictions. They also write in and leave comments in the Comfort Eating discussion, such as this one from “Motivated,” age 19:

You can do this. You will do this. Take it one mouthful at a time, remembering that each bite counts, and you WILL succeed!

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Comfort Eating Bulletin Board,”
Source: “Addiction to Chocolate, Sugar, Cheese, And Meat: How Food-Cravings Are Caused And How They Can be Conquered,”, 11/24/10
Image: Fotosearch,  courtesy of Dr. Robert Pretlow.

Sarah Palin Unfazed by Childhood Obesity

December 6, 2010

Sarah Palin in Kuwait

Sarah Palin has been accused of being an addictive substance, in such headlines as (the following links in headlines are ours): “Why is Sarah Palin the crack cocaine addiction of the liberal party?” and “America’s addiction: Sarah Palin,” in which writer EL Marr says, “Sarah Palin is the *Movie Star* of American politics”– and we all know how deeply addicted America is to movie stars.

Writer and editor Andrea Higbie once warned that the country would have to get over its addiction to Sarah Palin. She put it this way:

As with any other addiction, people who need their daily Palin fix should expect to experience withdrawal pains from the daily headlines, the talk-show hilarity and all the communal fun they’ve come to count on to feed their daily habit.

But that was written more than two years ago, back in October of 2008, and it hasn’t happened yet. Palin’s son supposedly is or was addicted to something or other, and she has been accused of being addicted to oil, as well as to cheating the taxpayers by collecting travel allowance payments for sleeping at home in her own bed, as described in this video clip, “Sarah Palin’s Per Diem Addiction.”

One thing Palin has never been accused of is reluctance to share her feelings. Her latest assault on common sense was an interview in which she slammed the First Lady’s efforts to curb the childhood obesity epidemic. As everyone in the world has heard by now, this happened on a radio show hosted by Laura Ingraham. Sam Stein wrote for The Huffington Post,

For the second time this week, Palin threw jabs at Michelle Obama (the first instance came with the publication of Palin’s book), this time calling her campaign to improve child nutrition another instance of a philosophical devotion to big government.

Stein is a political journalist who has written for Newsweek, the New York Daily News, and the Center for Public Integrity. His post about this controversy chalked up almost 17,000 reader comments. He quotes Palin’s criticism of Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! program to reduce childhood obesity:

What she is telling us is she cannot trust parents to make decisions for their own children, for their own families in what we should eat… just leave us alone, get off our back, and allow us as individuals to exercise our own God-given rights to make our own decisions…

Well, it looks like Sarah Palin won’t be subscribing to the Food Addiction Paradigm any time soon. But in the unlikely event that she is reading this, we’d like to repeat some of the things said by children and teens who tell their stories at Weigh2Rock. They have not only admitted their addiction to food, but named the particular substances that they struggle so hard to give up, including sweet fizzy beverages like the one Palin is pictured with at the top of the page.

What the kids say:

I’m addicted to pop. If I don’t have at least one a day, I get migraines…
I am addicted to chips and pop, I can’t stop eating them.
I am addicted to Diet Pepsi… A big thing I have to work on is not drinking pop… I have to slowly stop this because I am addicted and if I don’t drink any caffeine I get horrible headaches that I sometimes pass out from.
One of my weaknesses is hot cheetos, I’m addicted to them, literally. I eat them almost every day.
I eat pretty healthy (besides 4 tablespoons of peanut butter a day cuz I’m an addict!!!)
… banana chips… just can not lay off of it. I’m totally addicted to it.
I’m addicted to frosted cereals.
I am addicted to cookies love them.
I just feel like I’m addicted to candy and super simplistic sugars that I know are horrible for me.
I’m addicted to McDonalds… and chocolate. I love chocolate so much I use a least 1500 of my calories a day to chocolate sometimes.
I am addicted to fatty and sweet foods.
I always have cereal, I’m like addicted to it, Cheerios mostly but other kinds too.
I have a candy addiction. Candy is my Kryptonite.

Get a clue, Sarah! Listen to the kids!

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Getting Over Sarah Palin,” The Morning News, 10/23/08
Source: “Sarah Palin’s Per Diem Addiction,”
Source: “Palin Slams Michelle Obama Again, This Time For Anti-Obesity Campaign,” The Huffington Post, 11/24/10
Image by asecondhandconjecture, used under its Creative Commons license.