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“Maggie Goes On A Diet”: Is This REALLY A Good Idea?

No. No it is not. Not sure if you have heard about this new book coming out in October by author Paul M. Kramer. It’s called, Maggie Goes On A Diet . Well here, I’ll let you read the product description yourself.

“This book is about a 14-year-old girl who goes on a diet and is transformed from being extremely overweight and insecure to a normal sized girl who becomes the school soccer star. Through time, exercise and hard work, Maggie becomes more and more confident and develops a positive self-image.”

Sounds fine, doesn’t it? Then what’s the problem? Well, it’s about a 14-year-old girl but the book is written in verse and targets readers from four to eight-years-old! Not good.

This is a very slippery slope. On the one hand, we know rates of childhood obesity are off the charts and something has to be done. But is this it? I would feel better if the book was “Maggie learns to eat better” or “Maggie finds an exercise she likes.” To tie popularity to dieting and being “normal-sized” (I’m not even sure what that is) feels so wrong to me. It’s even more obscene to imply to girls as young as four, that external appearance is what makes you a well-liked, school sports star.

I’m not naïve here; I’m sure people do start feeling better about themselves when they get in shape. But the key phrase is “about themselves”, in other words they are internally motivated, either by health or other reasons. It’s not done so they can become prom queen or have a date on Friday night. You know what this sounds like to me? Eating disorders in the making. And sexist too, don’t even get me started on why Matt isn’t going on a diet. I guess he can still be chubby and popular.

Okay, let’s debate this. Maybe I’m wrong. Is it possible Maggie goes on a Diet, is a good book for young girls to read? Do you think it sends the right message? Will this help with the epidemic of childhood obesity in this country or open up a whole new can of worms? Fire away!

15 Comments

  1. pattyrowland

    August 25, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    agree 100% gem! diet is an ugly 4 letter word…they can do so much better…smdh!!!

  2. Smarty P. Jones

    August 25, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    This book seems to be a way of “blaming the victim” almost. When kids are young and they have significant weight gain that is not related to a medical condition, it is the fault of the parent. It begins and ends with parents who pacify with food and unhealthy snacks.

    I’m not saying anyone is perfect and that you shouldn’t reward children with treats but we no live in a microwave society where everyone, regardless of age, has a busy schedule. The idea of family dinner is handing out burgers and fries over the seat and people rarely cook consistently.

    All this convenience is creating bad habits about food and obese children. This is precisely why we have kids as young as 6 and 7 developing Type II diabetes which has traditionally been an elderly adult disease.

    This book is being used as a cop out to push all the blame on the children and to get them started on this diet cycle early rather than the parents stopping to look at what they’ve done to get their child to this point.

  3. Stephanie

    August 25, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    I agree, it’s a bad idea. Kids get obsessed with their weight too young even when they aren’t overweight. We don’t need to encourage dieting at these younger ages, we need to encourage healthier eating habits and more active play. That goes very much on the parents, who provide the food at the age ranges this book is aimed at. You don’t often seen a 4-8 year old buying all her own food, after all.

    Teach kids about healthy eating and being active, absolutely. Tell them they won’t be popular if they’re fat, that’s a problem.

  4. Rebecca

    August 25, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    Thank you, Smarty. “What she said!”

    P.S. When my daughter was about 10, my mom took her to visit my sister and her family out of town (for about a week). They ate burgers at least once a day. My daughter got sick. They asked her if hamburgers always made her sick. “No, Memaw. We only eat them once in awhile. Mommy and Daddy usually cook.” 🙂

  5. Tiffany

    August 25, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    I totally agree with Rene & Smarty here.

    I was having a discussion on FB the other day with a former HS math teacher of mine about some of the new lunchtime food regulations that the state is placing on his school to try to combat childhood obesity. We, along with a few others, had a very good discussion about how parents will buy in to almost anything that shifts the blame from them to someone else when it comes to their children’s problems in life. When parents begin to own up to their responsibilities to their children, books like this will begin to fall by the wayside.

    School was bad enough with other kids dictating what I had to do to become popular and datable. Now adults are playing into that, too? Shame…

  6. Deanna

    August 25, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    Rene, I have a 17 year old daughter (you have seen her photos), very thin, many talk about her and it was told to me by others that she is not eating enough? My daughter gets upset, but I tell her she is fine because that is the way the Lord has made her.
    Our daughter has a well round diet, and she gets filled up quickly! She actually does mini meals throughout the day which is the way it should be done!
    If my daughter was in that age range, I would allow her to read the book, but at the same time, I as the parent would be telling her….that is NOT her in the book. You see this is where the parent comes in. Think about it why did this author targeted that group…..because you see too many overweight kids! Mostly the ENTIRE FAMILY is oveweight!
    Believe or not Rene many females in that age group are obese. I give you a classic example: one female 4th or 5th grade came into the nurses office (I was a substitute nurse); she had split her pants. We have clothing that they can put on but you know what???? NOTHING FIT….the parent was called, but the parent did not have transportation to bring the child something else to wear from home. I was so upset for her and I was upset at the parent (how does your child get that big at that young age?)…and the child was so embarassed! Do you know I had a bag of clothing sitting in my trunk that I was going to give away but did not have the time to stop by the place to do so.
    Thank you Lord for letting me remember I had clothing sitting in the back of that car. Do you know what fit her???? A 5/6 adult female skirt? For a child?????? Only in 4th or fifth grade??? Something is wrong Rene! I think it is like so many other things in life……look at the character and see what parts apply to the child as far as the story is concerned. I tell my daughter don’t gain weight becasue the world is in her ear telling her she is “too small.” Many are jealous because they can’t have the same habits she has without gaining the weight, but at the same time, I tell her maintain a “well balanced diet”, and”stil exercise” regardless of her size! Sometimes I think she eats too much pizza, but I look at the WHOLE picture. One day a week @ school I let her indulge in her favorite foods and I really don’t have a problem with her eating her vegetables and fruit! Because I made her eat them! She didn’t have a choice in the matter! Like so many of the mothers giving them too many choices!
    You should have seen her on that cruise ship!!! She ate so many different kinds of meals and it included everthing from the Food Pyramid so I was glad for her to eat and enjoy and I didn’t have to worry about her not eating enough!
    Oh my Lord….and we both LOST weight when we came back; not my hubby!
    There is also another side to this and that is what about the people (like me who are making a sincere effort to make the correct choices concerning dietary habits and maintaing my weight)! I go to the Fashion Bug and other various places, and it seems like they are catering more to the obese woman…I see so many outfits I want and you know what they are on the side of the store where the plus women sizes are. They don’t even have the same outfits for me! I even asked an employe why don’t they order the same stlyes of clothing.
    She wouldn’t give me a straight answer…so I gotta dress in ugly clothing because I am thin?????
    Honestley it is like I am being punished because I choose to stay to thin…..I am certainly not going to gain weight so I can wear that particular style of clothing!
    I think the message could be implemented in a positive way, because it shows the discpline and strength of a child; which in turn would give someone else some hope within that same age group.

  7. Kathy

    August 25, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    This whole “blame the parent” thing has got to stop. NOW! Most parents want to give their kids healthy food; however, you try buying healthy food on a fixed budget. First of all, when you see extremely obese kids, don’t assume it’s due to overfeeding. There are also medical reasons behind weight gain that go undiagnosed; thyroid, hormonal and diseases such as Cushing’s http://www.ohsu.edu/ohsuedu/newspub/releases/051106cushing.cfm and Prader-Willi Syndrome, amongst others: http://www.rightdiagnosis.com/symptoms/obesity_in_children/common.htm Other reasons could be emotional – child sexual and emotional abuse, bullying, and depression. So EVERYTHING needs to be ruled out. I am sick & tired of this Society’s ridicule of people of size, and even more sick & tired of this “blame the parent” mentality when you don’t know what the hell other people are going through. Can’t we learn to accept peoples’ differences instead of treating people like pariahs?

  8. Irene

    August 25, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    No this is not a good idea….yes we have an obesity problem in this country…heck I have more just then I need in my trunk.

    I hate the idea that this book is encouraging “dieting” it is a word that could hurt children and has….there are so many eating disorders out there. Putting undo pressure on kids is not good.

    P.S. Gem CNN cafferty has a segment on about paying kids in philadelphia to go to school…get this?? In philadelphia they are going to pre pay them…check out cafferty files….you cannot make this stuff up…I think the world is going crazy…

  9. DawnKA

    August 25, 2011 at 6:09 pm

    Okay, I guess I am the only one who sees this book differently and welcomes it with a grateful heart 😉 The statistics indicates that the children may not live as long as their parents due to the overwhelming cases of obesity. Children are being diagnosed with diseases/illnesses that were once reserved for adults (almost senior population). Unfortunately, we are looking at the word diet in a negative sense, where the keep in mind that the word diet is just the term used for our daily intake whether it is good, bad, large or small portions.
    We were all kids and had to face bullies, etc. These kids are much stronger than we think as they face the harsh bullies at their schools everyday. They are either left out, laughed at or completely ignored. While other kids are looking at the magazines, videos/movies and using unhealthy options to fit in, this book promotes a healthy way of living through eating right and exercising.

  10. Rene Syler

    August 25, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    I agree with you @ DawnKA on the whole. But I do not believe telling a) only girls b) at that age and c) tying being well-liked to “normal-size (huh? What is normal?) I agree diet the word has taken on a negative connotation, but that’s the way it is used here. I think they could have picked a better name and a more unilateral approach, instead of singling out girls.

  11. DawnKA

    August 25, 2011 at 7:51 pm

    I didn’t see it as singling out girls or might it be that girls take on the issue of weight issues more so than boys? I guess I was just happy to see someone promoting healthy habits in kids

  12. pattyrowland

    August 26, 2011 at 10:59 am

    this is one reason that u.s. school systems need jamie oliver’s food revolution!

  13. m.e. johnson

    August 26, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    Rene, i agree about the title of the book and what about boys. I see most overweight children with at least one overweight parent. Yes, some can’t afford the healthy stuff, but some WON’T buy it. They like their pizza, fast food, etc. and by golly you kids better eat it or else. Or the mister is a ‘meat’n potatoes’, hate veggies person, so that’s what everyone gets (sons want to be like dad too).

    Now, a 4-y.-o is not going to be the one buying the book. Somebody please follow thru on this.

  14. lyon

    September 2, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    This book is exactly what kids should be reading. Kids don’t understand how important it is now to eat and be healthy as it pertains significantly to their future as well as capabilities of today for sports and other things. Kids will eat whatever they are given and some are allowed to have whatever they want. A lot of children can’t count on their parents these days. I see alot of parents who do things just to quiet their child so they don’t have to put any effort into actually parenting.. kids are sponges. They do exactly what you raise/coach them to do. This book is perfect for any child who is overweight. Most kids that are overweight don’t understand that its not ok until other peers make fun of them or other people are mean to them bcuz he or she is overweight or fat! The people whom attack this author and or critsize him, are apparently out of their mind or don’t know a thing about what kids have to go through when they are overweight.. Parents need to wake up and actually be parents! Teach, feed, monitor, motivate, correctly!! If your child is overweight, look into a mirror and you will see the problem.. Granted some children have medical conditions and they are excused, but 90% of all obesity can be prevented, fixed and or controlled

  15. Rene Syler

    September 2, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    @lyon: I agree with part of your point. I cannot, however, co-sign on the author selecting girls and ignoring boys, who also are overweight or his attempt to tie weight into popularity. That is so dangerous. Losing weight needs to be done for personal and/or health reasons, not so you can be voted prom queen.

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Combing the aisles at Target in search of the best deal on Cheerios, it hit Rene Syler like the stench of a dirty diaper on a hot summer’s day. Not only is perfection overrated its utterly impossible! Suddenly empowered, she figuratively donned her cape, scooped up another taco kit for dinner and Good Enough Mother was born.

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