Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Book about Dieting for Kids? Tread carefully.

A friend shared this article on my Facebook wall last week: Dangerous? Book About Dieting Teen Targets Kids 6-12. My initial thought was that the question mark after the word "Dangerous" should be changed to an exclamation point.

This children's book is about a 14-year-old girl named Maggie who goes on a diet and becomes her school's soccer star. I believe that author Paul M. Kramer has decent intentions, hoping to help overweight children feel inspired to get fit and healthy. But creating a role model like Maggie who goes from overweight and insecure to thin and popular, unfortunately, is the wrong approach.

The article about the book states, "Through time, exercise and hard work, Maggie becomes more and more confident and develops a positive self image." But the book appears to be giving the following message to kids: dieting & exercise leads to weight loss which leads to popularity and happiness. Danger. This type of thought process has been shown to lead to eating disorders and poor body image in kids (and in adults for that matter).

Nevertheless, we live in an age when the prevalence of overweight and obese children is down-right frightening. So yes, kids should be encouraged to eat well and be physically active but NOT as a means to popularity or weight loss, but rather to feeling good and being able to perform well in school and athletics. Kids don't need to read a book about a girl who goes on a diet in order to be inspired to lead healthy lives...what they need is education and example.

Overall, I believe that Kramer is passionate about helping children, and I hope that once the book comes out in October, it will not be as dangerous as I'm worried it might be.

If you want to learn more about how you can inspire children to live well, visit the following website and read about a program that is really making a difference by making it fun for kids to eat nutrient-rich foods and be physically active for at least 60 minutes per day: Fuel Up to Play 60!

I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. It's a great conversation starter, and I think it's an important thing to consider. Be well, and enjoy the day!


2 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for writing a post about this book Steph! I think this is so so sad. it's hard enough to grow up today!!

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  2. I also saw a mini article in People magazine about this book. While I get that it might be a needed "educational tool" in terms of helping kids learn about healthy foods + the importance of exercise, I do not agree with the message this book sends. The title for one makes me cringe. Why do they need to use the word DIET? Why cannot it be something as "Maggie makes healthy choices." As an adult (who has recovered from anorexia) I cannot imagine what a young girl, who might be struggling with her self esteem, might be feeling after seeing/reading this book. Thanks for bringing attention to this topic.

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