A diet book for kids (!) and what it can teach us

Maggie

This is unbelievably sad, and the more I read about it, the more ironic and sad the story gets.

A new children’s book, targeted at kids 4-8 years old (!), tells the story of the young teenager Maggie. Maggie is fat and bullied at school. But by starting to eat right and working out a lot she gets thin. Then she becomes a star of the soccer team and popular at school.

The net is in an uproar about the book, to be published in October. Is it a prescription for eating disorders? Or is it a necessary message to combat the growing obesity epidemic?

Personally I think it’s something worse.

Insanity

This is a perfect illustration of the massive mistake behind the obesity epidemic. We are eating bad food (sugar, refined starch) that makes us want to eat too much. But many (if not most) people think the solution is to just ignore the hunger, eat garbage low fat products and work out more, instead of getting rid of the problem.

Of course it’s not working. Adults are getting more and more obese. And now we are giving the same failed advice to kids!

The problem: It is not a four year old kids fault if he or she has a weight problem. She does not buy the food. She does not cook the food. If the parents would have given her good real food, without any refined sugar, she probably would never get a weight problem to begin with.

It is not the overweight kids fault. So we absolutely should not put the responsibility of getting thin on her shoulders.

In a less insane world the parents would instead make sure that the kid mainly has access to good food. Low sugar. Low starch.

Irony

Here is an interview with the author of “Maggie goes on a diet”:

MaggieGOAD

I’m sure Paul Kramer has the best of intentions when writing his book to help kids “eat less and run more”. But this is just too sad. Obviously that bad advice has not worked too well for him either.

How can we expect small children to stand being hungry when not even adults can? This is insane and it’s time for everybody to realize it.

More

All about weight loss

Why Americans are obese

The American obesity epidemic 1989 – 2010

Low carb winning 14 – 0

LCHF for beginners

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36 Comments

  1. It's not even just the low-fat garbage products. Putting a kid on a diet of mostly vegetables, and very little fat, means they're *not getting* the nutrients they need to make their metabolism work correctly.

    For example, I have learned that menatetrenone (vitamin K2, the mk-4 analog) triggers the production of osteocalcin in the bones and teeth, which in turn triggers the production of adiponectin in the fat cells. This substance then goes on to make cells all over the body more insulin-sensitive.

    Where do you get menatetrenone? Dairy products (especially grass-fed dairy) and animal organs. Exactly the foods The Experts(tm) are telling us not to eat.

    That's just one piece of the puzzle. But so many of the nutrients we need for a healthy metabolism depend on fat in some way. Fat-soluble vitamins are useless without fat to go along with them. Minerals can't be assimilated if you don't consume both fat and fat-soluble vitamins. All of these will be short on a low-fat diet. Even when plant foods contain lots of minerals, they're not the best form.

    Look to see how many of these fat children also have cavities and/or need orthodontic braces. My bet is most of them are in one or both groups.

  2. My husband is a PA and has done extensive reading on that very topic Dana and totally agrees. Our good friend, an Endodontist, has come to the same conclusion. I rolled my eyes at my husband buying the "fancy butter" at first, but we have noticed a difference in our skin and our son had a much better dental check up than in the past AND noticed an improvement in his ADHD symptoms. With a little research and some label reading we have vastly improved the quality of the food we are eating.

    P.S. "The Experts(tm)" HILARIOUS!!

  3. That book makes me sad.. It is crazy that the author seriously thinks targeting kids and obesity is a solution...
  4. Margaretrc
    This is insanity at its worse--targeting children, with the same old same old misinformation, to boot. I think it's time for someone--you? Tom and Chareva?--to write a book/make a kids' movie to show parents the real way to keep kids from getting fat in the first place and how to help them lose weight without hunger if they are overweight. So, so sad. What have we come to?
  5. Barb
    What idiocy! The man is a putz!
  6. CathyN
    This book is just so disturbing on so many levels. It's like the morbidly obese author is out to not only destroy children's self esteem, but also their health.
  7. I wrote an article about eating disordered and children not long ago for Parents Canada. According to the Journal of Dietetic Association, 81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat. 46% of 9-11 year olds are often or sometimes on a diet. 42% of grade 1-2 3 girls want to be thinner [International Journal of Eating Disorders].

    Books like this don't help. They exacerbate an already growing problem that asserts self worth is external.

    Jamie VanEaton
    Your Lighter Side

  8. Rather than lecturing kids with advice that generally fails the majority of adults and has clearly failed this particular author perhaps we should enable kids to share what they find works for them. Here is an example.
    Weigh2Rock! is about a healthy weight. Its purpose is to help kids, teens, and their parents.
    It may also help if instead of offering useless advice we actually spent time in listening to the problems obese kids experience following current "official" weight loss advice.
    OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say What's Really Causing the Childhood Obesity Epidemic?
  9. Jill
    I think the important thing to remember is that it looks like the sort of book kids hate reading - bad pictures, unrealistic portrayal, overt propaganda of the sort that was rampant in schools in the 50s. Haven't they gotten better techniques for pushing BS?
  10. palo
    Parents should enroll obese kids in karate classes. They get good exercise and can "throw their weight" at the bullies.
  11. Funderaren
    Palo, or parents should cook real food and serve to their children.
  12. Peggy Holloway
    This makes me incredibly sad. Especially because I had an overweight daughter who was morbidly obese by the time she was in high school. We took her to a weight class at the local hospital and tried everything else that was the conventional medical advice at the time (and the present, sadly). Because her father was a general internist and we both had family histories of "diabetes," he was adamant about following a low-fat diet. So, my unfortunate children were raised on low-fat diets. (My son's terrible ADHD is a subject for another post.) My daughter, through her own efforts, lost half her body weight in college. She still bears the scars, emotionally and literally. (You rarely hear the shocking truth that after major weight loss, the lose skin remaining is almost as much of a nightmare for a young woman as being overweight. My daughter remarked "I went to so much work to lose the weight and I still look like a freak." She underwent surgery twice, which was not covered by medical insurance and cost us thousands, and does have significant scars along with stretch marks.)
    I so wish the medical community, media, and public would get the message about junk food low-fat diets before any more children have to suffer as mine did.
    PS - My daughter is now a happy, healthy young adult, an actress and theatre director, engaged to be married, and low-carb paleo!
  13. JGW
    Some fantastically insightful comments on this otherwise very disappointing issue.

    Doc, while I do understand your point re: the "irony" noted above, I don't think it necessarily helps to essentially attack the author from a personal standpoint (ad hominem). Unless you know his specific situation and/or details, I simply think the benefit of pointing out his inability to control his own weight does not exceed the cost in making an apparent assumption on an unknown situation.

    While this may be anecdotal in nature, I know a plethora of individuals who struggle with their weight, but genuinely try to help others receive the correct information. If you think I'm speaking about myself, I can assure you that is not the case. However, I'd be remiss if I didn't emphasize that not everyone has to be an athlete, as an example, to raise awareness, provide information and inspire others toward a particular lifestyle.

    As a practical matter, it just looks like an unprofessional potshot when, in reality, the substance of the author's perspective is the issue that should be [rightfully] attacked.

    *I realize this is an unsolicited perspective, Doc, but you have a great website that happens to be growing in depth and audience. I look forward to its continued success and intend my "advice" as constructive...

  14. Sanddog
    Pointing out that Kramer is fat isn't an attack, it's a fact. I wouldn't take dietary advice from him any more than I'd take it from the US Surgeon General, Regina M. Benjamin who is also obese.
  15. Funderaren
    Sanddog, a problem with thin people is that they often tend to give the same bad advice.

    A fat person can actually know why he is fat, while a thin person can actually be completly clueless why he is thin. But the best advice usually comes from someone who has been fat, gone slim and stayed slim.

  16. JGW
    Sanddog, whether or not it's a fact, it's not really necessary to point out. The benefit of pointing it out (maybe some laughs, emphasize the irony, etc.) is surpassed by the possible perception that it's interpreted as a personal attack (fact or not). Anyway, this isn't the point of this thread. I just wanted to offer a perspective so this blog continues to grow in reputation and reach.
  17. FrankG
    Is the author's own excess fat mass indicative of a failure in the advice he is giving? The same advice that we have all heard? "Eat less and exercise more" perhaps? He may be well-meaning but misguided... in which case I think discussion of his weight is relevant.
  18. FrankG has made the point I would have made. For far too long we have failed to question the advice that has been offered by health professionals and by those repeating "official" weight loss advice.
    "Insanity, Is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result." Einstein
    If following the "official" prescription for weight loss was successful MOST of the time and MOST people successfully managed not to regain why eating/exercising according to the guidance then we would not be in the position we are as a nation. Doctors and health professionals have to act as grown up adults and acknowledge that after 50yrs preaching the low fat low calorie more exercise route to weight maintenance that it doesn't work for most people so maybe the advice is wrong and they need to rethink the advice they offer.
    Here is an example of that in action.
    Obesity and Energy Balance is the Tail Wagging the Dog

    We must not ignore the obvious. If the person giving weight loss advice is demonstrably failing to benefit from that advice then it's likely that advice isn't worth following.

  19. Milton
    I don't know if it's fair or not to judge him on his weight, but isn't that how we judge people in many other walks of life? Would you trust a auto mechanic who can't keep his own car road-worthy? Do you take exercise advice from someone who looks terribly out of shape? Would you trust a tutor who had flunked out of class?

    It's possible that those people are very knowledgeable about the subject in question, but I think it's reasonable to react by thinking "why is someone giving health and nutrition advice when he is obese and out-of-shape?"

  20. Margaretrc
    "A fat person can actually know why he is fat, while a thin person can actually be completly clueless why he is thin. But the best advice usually comes from someone who has been fat, gone slim and stayed slim." Amen!
  21. Margaretrc
    @Ted Hutchinson, #8, I checked out the site (briefly, I admit) and clicked on the "school" which is supposed to tell kids why they are overweight. Unfortunately, it leaves kids with the impression--just like in this useless kids' book--that all they have to do is count calories and eat fewer than they expend--in other words, calories in, calories out. We've already established that simply counting calories doesn't work for most adults! Why would it work for kids? Yes, they can count the calories they eat--sort of, but how does one really know how much they expend? How does one override the body's natural tendency to expend only what it has eaten? As Taubes and others have said, calories in, calories out doesn't begin to explain, or rectify, the reason they are eating more than they burn. Now perhaps elsewhere in the site kids have discovered and shared the need to restrict carbs, but I somehow doubt it, or the "school" would say that. It doesn't. I think the idea behind the site is good, but it has a long way to go to actually fulfill it's promise.
  22. Unbelievable! Diet should not be in a four year olds vocabulary. If a child is overweight, the first place to look is the parents. 90% of the time the problem starts there (I accept that their maybe some exceptions). It is the parents who buy, prepare and cook all the meals in the house and the child eats what they are given. Educating parents on what is healthy eating is the first place to start in battling the obesity epidemic so it doesn't continue in the next generation. The parents can then pass on good eating habits to their children. We all know that the outdated conventional methods do not work it is time to get real and educate on limiting carbs
  23. JGW
    So, while I concede you make fine points, I offer a subsequent question for FrankG and Ted Hutchinson. If we hypothetically concede that "if the person giving weight loss advice is demonstrably failing to benefit from that advice then it's likely that advice isn't worth following," shall we avoid [correct] substance offered by a person who fits that same "demonstrable" failure? For example, if one of you share some viable and helpful information re: fitness training, but do not appear capable of "backing up those claims," shall the [correct] information be discounted?

    Of course, the irony is that the substance of the author's perspective is flawed anyway, but that's exactly my point re: what I believe should be the focus of our ire.

    It's definitely an interesting topic to me personally, because I happen to be young and fit enough to back up - through appearance - many of my perspectives. But, in 15 years, will the advice be "worth less" if my [superficial] appearance inevitably declines? I suppose a great reference point is Art Devany. His perspectives are often boosted and deemed "more" credible because of his appearance (even at an older age). I suppose the fascination with this topic, from my view, is that those of us who want to induce serious change in the wellness of our communities should then emphasize our own appearance as a functional tool.

    While I realize its value, my point has been that we should "focus on the substance." Another relevant example to consider is the "professional" view. I can tell you the names of at least half a dozen [leading] dieticians and health professionals (including Doctors) who will spew a number of nutrition/wellness myths to the people they affect. I find it unfortunate that those views have a tendency to be relied upon more than an actual examination of the substance. My belief is that what needs to occur is a paradigm shift.

    "Ted Hutchinson" briefly touched upon this point in a post above re: placing the tools in the hands of kids. Essentially, not patronizing them and allowing them to work out their problems under guidance and supervision. I think that's right in line with what I'm trying to convey re: the superficial vs. substance topic.

  24. JGW
    Milton #20,

    Oh, I believe it's completely reasonable. My stance comes from the incorrect reversal (from a logic standpoint) that occurs with those thoughts.

    You mention "Would you trust a auto mechanic who can't keep his own car road-worthy?" Certainly, I would be skeptical and try to examine the substance of his perspective. My question actually relates to "does the person have to be an auto mechanic to offer you viable car advice?" Is the advice of a flawed auto mechanic more credible simply because of his professional background? These are important considerations when we try to transition the concepts to nutrition and healthy living.

  25. @ Margaretrc I checked out the site (briefly, I admit)
    I agree the site does not specifically encourage/support the low carbohydrate approach to weight loss.
    Zoe Harcombe reviews Pretlows book here and his Links to her site So I assumed he was more low carb friendly than is the case.
    I still think his emphasis on the reasons why children overeat is important as is the need to cut addictive foods.
  26. @ JGW My belief is that what needs to occur is a paradigm shift.
    I agree with this. I think people are far too willing to accept what "official" sources of information say.
    We should all challenge the nonsense that gets reported and be more vigilant about what isn't being reported.
    I appreciate this is totally off topic but the papers just happen to be open on my PC at the moment.
    Characterization of veterinary MRSA: transmissibility and virulence
    Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) contamination
    of retail pork

    They do make you wonder if we are being told the truth about why MRSA keeps recurring?
  27. FrankG
    @JGW you seem to be suggesting that I am *only* focussing on this author's superficial appearance. Such was not my intention at all... hence my very careful choice of words "Is the author's own excess fat mass indicative of a failure in the advice he is giving?". I posed a question rather than an assertion, with my intended focus being on his advice... the substance as you put it.

    I agree that the substance of his approach should carry the burden of the weight rather than the way he looks, but I was responding (in context) to what I saw as your chastisement of those who saw irony in this situation.

    If not irony, then I at least see potentially contradictory evidence being presented by this man's words and physique. He may have a glandular disorder for all I know and his advice may be solid LCHF -- that is why I posed the question... let's not assume anything, let's examine the evidence.

    "That is the essence of science: ask an impertinent question, and you are on the way to a pertinent answer" - Jacob Bronowski

  28. Academic publishers make Murdoch look like a socialist Academic publishers charge vast fees to access research paid for by us. Down with the knowledge monopoly racketeers
    Maybe if the research published in peer reviewed journals weren't kept protected from public scrutiny by racketeering publishers we would see better quality research.
    We should insist that insist that all papers arising from publicly funded research are available from a free public database.
  29. Eden
    This kind of book absolutely scares me. I grew up fat & chubby (with 7 thin siblings) and figured I had just been given a defective body. As the chubby kid at school, at home, and everywhere, I thought it was my fault that I was fat. I tried to exercise and eat less and I started my first diet at 9. More than anything I wanted desperately to be thin and I thought it meant I just had to work harder and be more disciplined even though that plan kept failing me. This book only reiterates that idea and the idea that once you are thin, popularity and social acceptance are your rewards.
  30. JGW
    @Ted and Frank, fair enough. I think we're all on similar [big picture] tracks. Specifically, to one of Ted's points in #27 and Frank's message at the end of #28, I genuinely believe any significant shift will come from a sudden pivot in mentality. I do realize professionals/doctors/dietitians/etc. may feel slightly threatened that the masses will generally be skeptical and ask more questions (I've polled doctors on their "annoyance" factor when challenged - it's scary), but I see this as an opportunity for doctors to alter the US model of health care and an opportunity for Dietitians to increase align their financial goals with the quality expected by consumers. This will be a massive effort, obviously. I intend to be a part of the necessary change.
  31. Margaretrc
    "We should insist that insist that all papers arising from publicly funded research are available from a free public database." Amen!
  32. Margaretrc
    @Eden, #30, My sentiments exactly.
  33. Jaime
    "Ate lots of oat meals and fruits and lost weight"?? An overweight person who doesn't seem to know much about how the body works should not be giving advice to children (or anyone) on how to eat, especially when not even trained doctors in general have that knowledge.
  34. Tami
    I'm not against promoting children to eat healthy and exercise. What I am against is the disillusionment that it with automatically make them popular. This can cause other self esteem issues, if the child losses weight and doesn't become as popular as the character of the book.
  35. If you want a laugh from the alternate end of the scale, we have a 3 year old who at 1 and a half was sent to a nutritionist for being too "skinny" remembering that my family we're all tiny as kids and then shoot up to be huge adults. When we got to the nutritionist office she started to swear about the doctor since our son was proportionately correct and she had real medical problems with more obese patients. We forgot to tell her that mostly all he ate was bacon, steak and milk thou i did tell her that he was still having a Lil breast milk normally to calm owies.

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