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Surprising Science

A Diet Book for Six-Year-Olds?

Nutrition experts are attacking a diet book intended for a six-year-old audience which features an overweight girl on its cover holding up a skimpy dress in front of a mirror.

What’s the Latest Development?

A children’s book on dieting is under attack from nutritionists who say it may aid in the development of eating disorders. Maggie Goes on a Diet tells the story of 14-year-old Maggie who “is transformed from being extremely overweight and insecure to a normal-sized girl who becomes the school football star.” Nutritionists are critical of the book because its intended audience is children six to 12 years of age, a prime time for the development of eating disorders. The book is scheduled to be published in the U.S. by October. 

What’s the Big Idea?

What is the best way to combat the national obesity problem, which shows no signs of slowing even in children? Critics of Maggie Goes on a Diet say parents are the correct demographic to address, not primary schoolchildren. But lest we have illusions about our children’s innocence: “Six and seven-year-olds already believe that their size tells the world what sort of person they are and that big equals fat equals unpopular,” says Susan Ringwood, leader of the eating disorder charity Beat.


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