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A Few Words About Chocolate

July 12, 2010

Chocolate-Covered Scorpion

Have you noticed that it’s possible to buy chocolate-coated just-about-anything? Pretzels, coffee beans, bananas, popcorn, squash, potato chips, even bacon. You name it, and someone has coated it with chocolate. Humans love chocolate so much, they will even eat chocolate-covered ants and scorpions.

We’ve mentioned the categories of highly pleasurable food, as defined by Linda Spangle. She classifies favorite junk food snacks not by flavor, but by texture. Crunchy and chewy stuff satisfies the eater for one reason; smooth and creamy does the trick for other reasons. Then add the enticements of temperature, like a bracingly cold milkshake or a comfortingly warm cup of cocoa, and things really start to get interesting.

Chocolate, bless its heart, is available in every category. Including creamy, smooth…. Mmmmm. Fudge, for instance, feels great in your mouth. A solid chocolate bar begins as something to chew on, and then, when it starts to melt, it transmutes into a pool of luscious silkiness. A premium Valentine assortment box of fancy treats is a symphony of chocolate — in combination with every kind of crunchiness, chewiness, and creaminess.

The thousands of kids who respond to questions at Weigh2Rock say their biggest problem foods are chocolate, fast food, chips, and candy. Of course, these groups tend to overlap. Chocolate-covered potato chips, for instance, would hit all four. So without getting bogged down in percentage points, let’s just call chocolate very addictive.

Right. As if this were news. It’s ancient history. It’s why we have cakes called Chocolate Decadence and Chocolate Confession. Very amusing. In our culture, it’s fun to toss around made-up words like “chocoholic,” but it’s really no joke. Kids struggle against their fatal attraction to the stuff, and there’s nothing cute about it.

Dr. Pretlow Gets Around:

Journal Media Group
This review of Overweight: What Kids Say, by Elizabeth Griffin of Washington State, is so overflowing with appreciation, it could make an author blush. Taking seriously the addiction paradigm as applied to food, Griffin also chose excellent quotations from Dr. Pretlow, including this one:

It is an addiction — no question about that from my point of view. The relationship these kids describe to food exhibits all six of the DSM-IV [the manual published by the American Psychiatric Association] description of addiction symptoms. We need to incorporate addiction treatment methods into weight loss plans.

Health and Goodness
Jane Thurnell-Read gives a perceptive overview of Overweight: What Kids Say, and states, “This book should be in every school library.”

KGO Radio
Dr. Pretlow’s May 29, 2010 interview with Joanie Greggains of KGO Radio, San Francisco, is now available in a Flash version, which doesn’t need to be downloaded.

A Blast from the Past
A few months ago, Dr. Pretlow conducted plenary session presentations at the European Childhood Obesity Group conference in Dublin, and the Forum for Child Obesity Interventions conference in Mexico City. After both events, the chairpersons told him how very impressed the attendees were by the way he has featured the words and experiences of obese kids themselves in his presentation.

However, what really sticks in Dr. Pretlow’s memory is something that happened at the Obesity Society meeting in Washington. A pediatrician who had been at the Ireland conference has told Dr. Pretlow that his presentation “shook her up” so much that she had changed her way of treating patients. That’s what a person with a message wants to hear!

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Website gives voice to teens with obesity,” Journal-Newspapers.com, 07/06/10
Source: “Overweight Kids,” Health and Goodness, 07/07/10
Image by ThisParticularGreg, used under its Creative Commons license.

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