Kid's Diet Book Stirs Mixed Emotions - FOX Charlotte

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CHARLOTTE, NC- Lots of mixed emotions from parents about a children's book hitting stores next month.

Maggie Goes On A Diet is about an unhappy, obese 14 year-old.

Maggie is overweight and unpopular.

Kristen McClure is a therapist in Charlotte who works mostly with children.

McClure says the book's target age of eight is too young.

"The earlier the emphasis on physical appearance for girls... the higher the association with anxiety, depression, and eating disorders," said McClure.

A page in the book shows Maggie looking in the refrigerator late at night. An excerpt from the page reads, "Maggie was anxious and depressed and not thinking clearly. She was holding on to her dignity but only just barely… Searching the refrigerator in hopes she would feel better."

In the book, Maggie wants to play soccer so she goes on a diet.

The author writes, "playing soccer gave Maggie popularity and fame."

A South Charlotte mom with twins says she doesn't like the message the book sends that being thin equals being happy and healthy. She prepares the same meals for her daughters and involves them in the same activities, but one is just bigger than the other.

Michael and Kelly Cutaia say they would read the book their son. They think it could create positive conversation about an important topic.

"You just have to be careful how you translate that message to your children when you read the book. It's not that she's skinny and happy... she's happy because she's healthy," said Cutaia.

Regina McClain has three kids. McClain thinks that the book could affect children who already have low self-esteem.

"They already have peer pressure at school. The kids that can be very mean at times," said McClain.

About 80 percent of McClure's female clients, starting at age 7, talk about going on diets and are self-conscious.

"We really need to be a lot more thoughtful, specifically when we're talking about young girls and the kinds of messages we give them about their body," said McClure.

The author, Paul Kramor, is not a nutritionist or physician. But, he told the Associated Press that through the book, he just wants to inspire overweight kids to be healthy.

06 Sep, 2011

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