Huffpost Parents
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Laura Stampler Headshot

Disturbing New Children's Book 'Maggie Goes On A Diet' Encourages Young Girls To Diet

Posted: Updated:
Print Article
A chubby young girl with Pippi Longstocking braids stands in front of the mirror holding up a too-small pink dress and sees a different -- some may say better -- version of herself. Her mirror image is thin.

No, this is not an after school special on eating disorders; it's the cover of a (disturbing) new children's book with the (possibly more disturbing) title, Maggie Goes on a Diet. And, this will be in bookstores October 16.

The Amazon description of Paul M. Kramer's self published book reads:

This book is about a 14 year old girl who goes on a diet and is transformed from being extremely overweight and insecure to a normal sized girl who becomes the school soccer star. Through time, exercise and hard work, Maggie becomes more and more confident and develops a positive self image.

Barnes & Noble recommends the book to children aged 6 to 12.

In the land of hypothetical, there could be some rationale behind the plot.

Teaching kids to make healthy lifestyle choices from an early age is a worthy endeavor (one that first lady Michelle Obama has taken on as her own), and childhood obesity is a serious public health issue nationwide. According to the CDC, approximately 17 percent of children and adolescents are obese in the United States, over triple the rate a generation ago.

But Maggie isn't looking at an imagined reflection of herself dominating the soccer field. For this little girl, it's all about the dress. The book is promoting skinny first, with a side of healthy slipped in later.

Just as childhood obesity is on the rise, eating disorder rates are climbing, and affecting younger and younger kids. Last year, the American Academy of Pediatrics reported a 199 percent increase in the number of eating disorder-related hospitalizations for children under the age of 12 between 1999 and 2006. A 2011 study found that nearly one in 60 adolescents has anorexia, bulimia or binge eating disorder. Over half of little girls aged 3 to 6 think they are fat.

Disturbing, yes. Surprising? With infant's onesies that were selling for $23.95 that read, "Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels," unfortunately not.