What Do You Think About This Diet Book For Children…

We cannot ignore the fact that some children are obese and that may lead to self-esteem, body image, confidence, and serious long-term physical health issues. I understand that this is a complex issue that needs to be addressed. But this type of book, with that type of title, isn’t the way to go about making a positive change. This book is irresponsible and sends an unhealthy message.

The writer, Paul Kramer, says this book is about a fourteen-year-old girl, but the girl on the cover looks about seven. Either way it’s bad news. Amazon markets the book to ages 6 and up. “Maggie Goes on a Diet” is a misguided attempt to address the weight epidemic among kids and teens and is a potential eating disorder trigger. Highlighting imperfections in a boy’s or girl’s body does not empower a child to adopt good eating habits or become healthy and no child should be made to feel socially ‘unacceptable’ based on their size.

A diet is not the answer to becoming popular or a super star, as this book suggests. Encouraging healthy eating and being active would be more appropriate as opposed to promoting dieting. This book is contributes to the false theory that being thinner “fixes” everything. Being thin does not guarantee living happily ever after.

Diets and children are not a good mix. I want my kids to have life-long healthy relationships with food and their bodies. By modeling a healthy lifestyle, we can teach our children to celebrate their bodies, savor food, and be active for life. Dieting, which includes food deprivation, restrictive eating, excessive exercise, and negative body talk, can lead to low self-esteem, negative body image, and serious eating disorders.

I have heard first-hand, from women who dieted as children, who expressed the horrible physical, mental, and social consequences and warped thinking that diets lead to—I even know someone who died from the affects of childhood dieting because it led to her disorder eating, which spiraled out of control. I also know women who have wrecked their metabolism, become obese, become anorexic, suffer from body image issues, or lost teeth from binging that started as “innocent” childhood dieting and food vilification.

Kids have immense societal pressures to look and act a certain way. They hear criticism from each other and hear kids criticizing themselves. That is why it is so important for us parents to be our children’s safe haven where there is no judging, teasing, or expectations to be perfect. Kids will go though phases when they will be thin or put on extra weight before growth spurts, or at the onset of puberty. We need to let kids know that they are exactly the way they are, help build their self-esteem and confidence, and give them the tools they need to thrive.

We need books for girls that promote a healthy lifestyle and that exemplifies a positive image of self-worth based on a person’s character, not based on weight or shape. The author may have good intentions, but the “Maggie Goes on a Diet” sends a bad message.

I say boycott the book and send your letters to Aloha Publishers.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Melissa
    Aug 30, 2011 @ 17:24:33

    I think it’s important to keep in mind that even people who are not “dieting” have a diet. The word itself should not be demonized. As you said, forming healthy eating habits for life is important, but with one third of America’s children suffering from obesity, it is clear that some parents are not exercising due diligence when it comes to administering a healthy diet. Once a child has reached the stage of extreme weight gain classified as obesity, it may have gone beyond the point of simply adopting a healthier diet.
    Although you seem like a concerned parent with the best interests of your kids at heart (physical, mental, and emotional), many parents never take the time to address these issues with their kids. Many lack both the time and the knowledge required to institute proper nutritional practices. This book is nothing more than a symptom of a reactive culture, one that doesn’t notice a problem until it is threatening a child’s life. For some kids, it has become too late to do anything but go on a diet and start exercising, lest they face ongoing health risks. While body image issues are certainly a concern, addressing physical health risks may be a more pressing matter.
    This book might not be the best way to go about dealing with childhood obesity, but I have to applaud the author for at least starting a discussion about a subject that is touchy, to say the least. And with a surprising number of parents shipping kids off to “fat camp” (so many, in fact, that there is actually a reality TV show on the subject), it is clear that avoidance may be at the heart of this issue.


  2. Lily
    Jan 20, 2012 @ 12:18:26

    My 6 year old daughter eats what she wants – she’s slim, super active and doesn’t even know the word diet yet. The only time we talk about food is in terms of nutrition and how to cook it. She eats chocolates, candies, puddings, cakes, cookies – she also loves vegetables and fresh fruit and tries new food regularly. Her body is hers, and hers alone – we don’t regulate her food intake, we offer variety and she chooses as she pleases. Other than that we just work with her on emotional self awareness and finding enjoyable physical activities. The idea behind this book is so far away from what children need – more free time to be active, safe places in which to be active and time with loving adults who’ll listen to what they’re dealing with in their everday lives.


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