Tonsillectomies, Working Moms, Indoor Heating . . . What DOESN’T Cause Childhood Obesity?

San Francisco school food reformer Dana Woldow has lately been amusing me by emailing links to every media story she comes across regarding newly discovered causes of childhood obesity (or obesity generally).  In just a few days she was able to amass this list of possible causes:

And here are two more that I came across during the same time period:

There’s obviously intense interest surrounding the study of obesity, but to what end?  While some of these studies might lead to practical advice (like waiting to offer solid foods to an infant), it often feels as though we’re losing sight of the big picture — namely, too much cheap, highly processed food in our diets and too little activity in our daily lives.

Am I naive to think that if we addressed those two problems, we could worry a little less about the tonsillectomies and the indoor heating?


  1. says

    I’m with you! Enough with the goofy studies. Imagine how much progress we’d make if all those researchers went and volunteered in school gardens and cafeterias instead of trying to find ridiculous (and tenuous) correlations.

  2. Timmi says

    I agree. These studies are so dumb. People need to take responsibility for their own actions and choices as well as those they choose for their children. Even if people quit eating out and making everything at home and going on a walk together that would be a wonderful start.

  3. says

    You’re so right, Timmi. After I gained my Freshman 15 (okay, okay…Freshman 20 😉 ), I spent the summer walking every night with my mom, as well as eating more fruit (and less Doritos). I lost almost ten pounds before the school year started. Since transitioning to a whole foods “lifestyle” (not a “diet”), which began that summer, I lost almost 35 pounds. And as far as exercise, I do little more than walking. Never underestimate a brisk walk! :)

    • bettina elias siegel says

      Lauren: But for walking and yoga, I pretty much hate all exercise, so it’s great to hear about the results you got from walking alone! – Bettina

  4. Renee says

    This is so completely true –it’s so much easier to blame all these things, rather than actually fix what’s wrong with the society we live in.

  5. says

    What I find hilarious is that several of these are really not new problems. Anxiety?? Economic insecurity?? Lack of sleep???? Sure, because prior to the drastic weight gain of the American population, no one was anxious or economically insecure and everyone slept 8 hours a night.

    I love the suggestion Christina left about having researchers go into schools and communities. As a public health researcher, I would LOVE more funds to be allocated to researching actual practice instead of academic research. There is a big difference between what works in a study and what works in the real world. There are some amazing interdisciplinary efforts but that is, unfortunately, not the standard in research funding.

    Bettina, I totally love your perspective and the commentary you attact – keep up the great work!!!

    • Bettina Elias Siegel says

      Leah – I know. That’s what makes these studies so suspect! Meanwhile, I have another batch lined up to share soon. So glad someone from CAN DO is visiting The Lunch Tray – I hope to have a post about your organization in the near future. Thanks for coming by and please continue to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *