A Diet Book For Little Girls: Is This Right?

By Jim F


Maggie Goes On a Diet is about to be released.

The book is aimed (according to Amazon) at children aged 6 and up. The story 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.”I can say right now – I won’t be buying this for my daughter. She has already picked up enough messages about dieting – be it from ads, TV programs, or overheard conversations with her peers. It’s not a message that I will reinforce.

We talk about the need to try and eat good foods when we can, and to try our best to keep active and move our bodies. She needs gentle encouragement in these areas.

I have seen the results of young girls dieting very early, and the outcomes are not good – with food becoming the object of obsession and control later on in life.

By all means we need to educate our children on good eating habits, and enjoying physical activity. But does Maggie really need to slim down so she can fit in that dress Mommy bought for her? I don’t think so.

Maggie Goes on A Diet available from Amazon.

Filed in Diet Reviews


  1. Rich

    Actually they are.

    – Worldwide, 8.6 million women die from heart disease each year, accounting for a third of all deaths in women. 8 million women in the US are currently living with heart disease; 35,000 are under age of 65.

    – 25.8 million children and adults in the United States—8.3% of the population—have diabetes. About 1 in every 400 children and adolescents has diabetes.

    – In 2007, diabetes was listed as the underlying cause on 71,382 death certificates and was listed as a contributing factor on an additional 160,022 death certificates. This means that diabetes contributed to a total of 231,404 deaths.

  2. Rich

    They should just change the name to: Maggie eats healthy

  3. Milemom

    Well Mac, it’s a lot easier to develop your personality and interests if you don’t have to worry about your weight…especially as getting fit and healthy increases self-confidence tremendously.
    Sheesh, anorexia is not the problem in this country…LOOK AROUND!

  4. Milemom

    Absolutely…let’s get our heads out of the sand. This book isn’t called “Maggie wants to starve herself to become a runway model;” my guess is that it stresses healthy foods and smaller portions. I do wish the title was different, but it is not fun or healthy for our children to be so overweight. (and even when kids are normal weight, there are still a huge variety of shapes and sizes…it’s not like the author is saying there is only one way to look good and be accepted.Kids need to understand that they don’t actually need ho-ho or crackers as “snacks” after soccer games and they need to know that chicken nuggets, fries, and sugar pop really are “bad” foods,

  5. Jane

    That epidemic thing gets tossed around a lot. They’ve been saying that since I was 14 and started the stupidest thing I ever started and that was DIETING. Funny, folks are still not dying en mass from this “epidemic”.

  6. Tony

    Child obesity is at epidemic levels. This book is a step in the right direction. Ignoring the problem and bemoaning attempts to address it will not change things for the better.

  7. LBC

    I think it kind of depends on the book, the girl, and her support system. I haven’t read the book so I don’t know what kind of tack it takes. I probably would have been a poor candidate for such a book when I was fourteen because I definitely had some body-image and self-esteem issues, but, on the other hand, I also had parents who were sensible about food, weight, and health, and would have helped me put it all in perspective.

  8. DAWN

    I think this is a sticky issue. I cannot see giving this book to a girl for the purpose of pushing her to diet, but would it be okay for her to read it if she WANTED to? I don’t know. The key is teaching the children healthy food and lifestyle choices and modeling them by our own actions, not in sharing a book about a kid that goes on a “diet”.

  9. Benjamin Torres

    People are always ready to complaint about everything and nothing…. Being FAT in an epidemic in the USA….. Why not tackle the problem at an early age…. !!!!!

  10. Dan

    I tend to think this is good advice for most people in general. I believe very much in good nutrition, but I am not that keen on “dieting,” that is a diet low in calories or either healthy carbs or healthy fats. Teenagers, both boys and girls are growing and calorie restriction stunts their growth. It is much healthier to exercise one’s weight off, along with eating more healthy foods, like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish if one is not Vegan etc than to starve one’s weight down. I found this approach better for me even though I am now 50- exercise worked a lot better than “dieting” did for me- healthy eating is not the same as “dieting,” since “dieting” limits the amount of nutrients one can consume.

  11. LBC

    I can’t actually scream because I’m reading this on my break at work, but believe me, I’m screaming in my head.

    I have awesome parents who did (and still do) lots of great stuff for their kids, but one of the things for which I will be eternally grateful is that my mother was not a dieter. She was a bit overweight, yes, and she has told me (now that I’m older) that her doctors put her on diets at various times when she was younger, but she never brought it up in front of the kids. I’m convinced that that spared me a lot of weight-related baggage in my adulthood. I’ve been slightly overweight, but I have to think that losing it was easier without a lot of mother-modeled insecurity and food/weight phobias.

  12. Sarah

    Totally agree that teenage girls should just be given advice on how to eat healthily and do a bit more exercise. Really no need for dieting.

  13. lisajo

    Well as mom to an 11 year old girl entering middle school this in a few days, I have to say that my daughter is about 15 to 20 overweight and I have tried everything to get her to eat sensible and exercise…I see my husbands sister who is a 400 pound woman now and it scares me that she is going to take after her. I am not saying that she is a bad human being but she isn’t healthy because she is falling apart because of the weight on her feet. Not to mention her heart! Well, I could be like my inlaws and never say anything to their daughter to upset or turn her into an anorexic or heaven forbid tell her when she was a child she was overweight…which by the way she has always been overweight. Or I could just let her go to the middle school and let her get excluded from the other cliques and for boys to cut her down because she isn’t under 90 pounds…She is 5’3 and weighs 145 pounds which is chubby!! I believe it will get worse if she doesn’t do something about it now. She plays soccer, basketball, softball and is pretty good. If she weighed 20 pounds less she would move quicker I am sure…But, anyhow this book may not be a bad idea. The title of the book could be better, but I think I would rather her read this book than just live in a fantasy world that its okay to overweight because you have a beautiful personality! I don’t want her to end up 400 pounds and develope bad feet and sore ankles from carrying that weight around. I don’t want her to get diabetes and be so fat she can’t even have children, if she decides she would like to have children…it’s not okay and we need to do something about it!! Any girl can develop anorexia! I remember the “already” skinny girls getting anorexia not the obese girls in school…This book may be needed for a reality check. The author is pointing out facts that are important to a girl in these age groups. We, as adults know that popularity isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. But, having friends, acceptance and being good at a sport are important to kids at these ages…sad but true, kids who are overweight are treated bad by other kids. The book should not be aimed at any kid under 12 though…

  14. Mac

    So basically this book is telling young girls that they will be popular and liked by their peers only if they are thin? There will be alot of disappointed girls when they realize that it takes more than being healthy to be accepted and liked by their peers. They have to develope their personalities and interests too.

  15. Jennifer Bean 1

    not. big no.

  16. Tabtiha

    Could you imagine if a parent did decide to buy and “gift” this book to a little girl???? That would be one of those life long unforgettable feelings that will never go away for her-and yes push her towards a more obsessed way of thinking about food and physical size. Not to mention knowing that your Mother thinks your fat as well and can only be the “soccer star” if she diets!!!

    We tell adults not to diet so why the hell would we phrase it towards children?? How about Mom and Dad buy a book called–Building Healthy, Happy Families from the inside out focus on new recipes and family activities making health a daily part of life! Not a goal to achieve to be accepted!

  17. Lana

    MIND YOU! The title might be misleading. I went and checked out the authoer and he has a few books including one for kids coping with divorce, one for bullying and a few others. Those ones look good and sensible so perhaps this one may not be as negative as we think. I will reserve my final judgment for after I read the 44 pages.

  18. Lana

    This is just … I don’t really have a word for my disgust. Way to foster disordered eating patterns, bad body image, and future serious eating disorders! 6 years old and dieting? are flipping kidding me?!?!
    Spectra always hits the nail on the head. I like the “Maggie gets healthy and plays soccer” idea much better than “diet” idea. I would like to have a word with the author, publisher, and editors.

  19. Spectra

    This is really sad. Heaven forbid a girl decide to go out for soccer despite being a little chubby–she has to go on a diet first. Maybe they should change the title to “Maggie Decides to Play Soccer and Gets Healthy!” or something–I do think kids need a positive influence and good role models to inspire healthy living, but kids can be healthy and a bit chubby at the same time. They usually aren’t done growing yet.

  20. O.

    No no no….. the correct male counterpart to this book is either…

    Mark gets shoe lifts so he can be taller


    Mark gets a p—- implant.

    I always say that if a man feels bad about himself, there are fat girl jokes on the horizon.

  21. Maggie Ayre

    That is truly awful. Teenagers should never go on a diet. Increase the good stuff in their diet and decrease the processed food maybe but if this book suggests any sort of calorie counting that is just wrong.
    As someone else has already said we should be boosting self-esteem, increasing exercise levels and decreasing the number of less healthy snack foods for this age group.
    Unfortunately I think it may be quite popular and just hope it doesn’t make it on to amazon uk.

  22. Heather

    I am sure they are putting together “Mark Goes on a Diet” as we speak? Not….

  23. Lestamore

    I don’t know, I think that at a certain point, kids who are very overweight are the victims of whoever is in charge of their diet and lifestyle. If a kid is going from an unhealthy situation to one that is less so, I imagine the perceived deprivation could seem a lot like punishment if they lacked the context to understand what was going on and why it was a good thing. I might not understand kids, but I feel like if this is aimed at 8 year olds who are seriously overweight, they are going to have issues with food either way, and it seems more caring to help them deal with the necessity of a healthy diet rather than make it their own responsibility or let them be overweight and sedentary for another 6 years to save them the risk of developing dieting issues.

  24. Christina

    Or… Maggie realizes there is more to her self esteem than the #. On a scale

  25. Bonnie

    The sequel will be out next year: Maggie Gets Treatment for an Eating Disorder!