kids. The attractions that accompany team sports—teamwork, competition, coaches, uniforms—are highly motivating, and weight loss can be an ancillary benefit. Thus one study of team sports for overweight children found that body mass index (BMI) declined in the intervention group compared with a control group even when the controls received nutrition and health education (Weintraub et al., 2008).

A prominent challenge is to produce effects of greater magnitude than are currently observed with such stealth interventions. In a search for motivations that cause more dramatic and sustained changes in behavior, Robinson has focused on social and ideological movements (Robinson, 2010b), loosely defined as groups of people or organizations that focus on specific common issues, often to effect change. The classic example is religious movements, in which people with strong religious beliefs can sustain behaviors that differ markedly from social norms. Other social and ideological movements that could have an effect on obesity include

•  environmental sustainability/climate change;

•  food justice/urban agriculture;

•  food safety;

•  community safety, beautification, and traffic reduction;

•  human rights/social justice;

•  anti-globalization/nationalism;

•  animal protection;

•  anti-consumerism;

•  violence and crime prevention;

•  cause-related fundraising;

•  energy independence; and

•  national security/anti-terrorism.

As an example, Robinson cited the adolescent girls he sees in his pediatric practice who are vegetarians, despite pressures from their parents or communities. They are able to sustain these behaviors over time because of their strong beliefs, which may be based on preventing animal cruelty or protecting the environment.

Robinson also highlighted cause-related fundraising, which often has an altruistic component. An example is Team in Training, through which people raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society3 by training to participate in half-marathons, 10-kilometer races, triathlons, and other sporting events. “There are people who [can’t] walk around a track when they start, who train over a series of months and end up being able to run a half marathon,” Robinson observed.


3For more information about the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, see

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