Dietitians should spread healthy eating and being active messages rather than focus on dieting to tackle the issue of childhood obesity, according to the Dietitians Association of Australia.
The comments come as a controversial new children’s book, titled ‘Maggie Goes On A Diet’, has sparked outrage in the lead up to its October release.
The book portrays the story of a 14-year-old girl named Maggie who is called “fatty” at school and then decides to go on a diet and join the soccer team to lose weight.Through exercise and diet changes, she becomes more confident and develops a better self-image.
The book’s cover shows Maggie as an overweight girl holding up a pink dress and looking at her thinner reflection in the mirror, indicating a desire to be thin.DAA spokesperson and accredited
practising dietitian Melanie McGrice said the title may be sending the wrong message to Australian children.
“Rather than focussing on weight loss and dieting we’d like messages to be around making healthy food choices and taking part in physical activity,” she said.
“The best approach is to focus on positive messages, such as healthy eating and being active to boost energy levels and to feel good – rather than to lose weight.“Encouraging the whole family to adopt a healthier lifestyle is the key. Getting in early and focusing on healthy food choices at a young age will have a major impact on long-term health.”
Results from the 2007-2008 Australian National Children’s Nutrition and Physical Activity survey reveal one in four children aged five to 17 are now overweight or obese.