This post is re-posted with permission from Second Act Consignment Dancewear.
I was surfing the web today and came upon a book entitled “Maggie Goes on a Diet.” My heart sank. As a therapist and the mother of two girls who dance competitively, I have always been very aware of the issues surrounding body image and weight. While I do believe that childhood obesity is a serious issue, to create a book whose premise is that by losing weight, Maggie is transformed from an insecure overweight girl to a normal sized soccer star is unsettling.
As a dance mom, the issue of a positive lifestyle, healthy eating habits and taking care of your body have often been discussed in our household. I try to focus on how and why to make healthy food choices, why we need to stay active and when (due to strains and injuries) we need to rest and take care of our bodies. Not once in our discussions has the words diet come into the conversation. I believe that Maggie Goes on a Diet, which is, in fact, aimed at 4-8 year olds, sends the wrong message. It implies that if you lose weight, you will be happier, more self-confident and popular. I feel that this is the exact opposite message that I want my daughters, who are already bombarded by negative messages in the media, to hear.
I agree that childhood obesity is epidemic. One in three North American children is overweight or obese. But to aim a book at 4-8 year olds that deigns to use the word “diet” is not the answer. Counting calories and pursuing weight loss is for not appropriate for children. Eating disorders often begin with diets and inadequate nourishment during critical growth stages. Although not all children are predisposed to anorexia, bulimia or other eating disorders, the best prevention tool we have is making sure young people are neither encouraged to nor allowed to diet. Instead, parents should be modeling healthy eating habits, teaching their children how to make healthy food choices, engaging in fun family fitness and helping their children focus on their strengths and skills instead of their looks.
What do you think?
- Childhood Overweight and Obesity (education.com)
- Why Do Women Hate Their Bodies? (psychcentral.com)
- Causes of Childhood Obesity (fitnesstipsforlife.com)
- Vogue Puts 7-Year-Old Girl On A Diet, Highlighing How Not To Solve Childhood Obesity (blisstree.com)
- How to Avoid the Obesity Epidemic (everydayhealth.com)