Outrage over diet book 

Jeremy Laurance

A diet book for six-year-olds with a cover that features a plump child holding a skinny frock in front of the mirror has been attacked by nutrition experts.

Maggie Goes on a Diet by Paul Kramer is due for publication in the US in October but is already listed on many bookseller’s websites. The book tells the story of 14-year-old Maggie who "is transformed from being extremely overweight and insecure to a normal-sized girl who becomes the school football star". "Through time, exercise and hard work, Maggie becomes more and more confident and develops a positive self-image," it adds.

The author, who is based in Hawaii, has previously published titles, including Do not Dread Wetting the Bed and Louie the Lobster Mobster, in which a criminal crustacean gets his just desserts. The age range of Maggie’s intended audience is six to 12, a prime time for the development of eating disorders. However, there is also a problem of childhood obesity with three out of ten children in the UK overweight.

Critics said the right people to target in order to combat childhood obesity were parents, and books with titles such as Fit Kids and Underage and Overweight are aimed at parents.

NHS Choices says the best way for children to lose weight is to ensure they eat regular meals, including breakfast, together with the family and without distractions. They should be given fruit juice, squash or water in place of fizzy drinks, and healthy snacks such as raisins or carrot sticks in place of crisps and sweets. From the age of five, they should be encouraged to do at least an hour of exercise strenuous enough to make them pant every day. The Independent