I just received a request from FOX news to go on their weekend show to discuss a new book coming out for kids. I couldn’t do the interview because of logistics so I’m writing about it.
I’m not going to give you the title because I don’t want to promote it at all. It’s an illustrated kid’s book about an unhappy 14 year old girl who is overweight. She goes on a diet and her life turns around. The book is geared to ages 6-12 but Amazon has it listed for kids 4-8. So sad. This is exactly the message we do NOT want to give to kids.
As an expert in weight loss and eating disorders, I have spent my professional career trying to steer kids and teens away from weight obsession. Dieting is often the entree to eating disorders, body image problems and more. In my book, Raising Healthy Kids, I have a chapter on how to talk to your children about weight. The first rule is NO DIETING. And we don’t talk about dieting either. We talk about building strong bones, feeding a growing brain, exercising for energy and coordination, etc. The emphasis with kids is on health and fitness. They already live in a world obsessed with appearance. Media regularly give the message that you are what you weigh, that weight determines your self-esteem and confidence.
Daily, kids are hit with about 3000 images of the perfect looking person who has been computer altered. As a result, we are seeing record rates of eating disorders, body dissatisfaction and requests for plastic surgery. This book will only reinforce the notion that success is achieved by dieting.
The author should join me in the therapy room. While his intentions may have been to help kids, he would learn much. He would hear the real life stories of girls who believed weight loss would lead to happiness, lost weight and are still unhappy. Girls who vomit to stay thin, take laxatives to achieve a certain look, starve to deal with their budding sexuality, and girls who do not understand why mom won’t give breast implants as a 16th birthday present. These are just a few of the fall outs of our diet obsessed society.
Should we help overweight kids eat, move and live better. Absolutely. That’s why I wrote a book! But dieting is not the way to do it. Buyer beware of any children’s book that encourages your child to diet!