4th Graders: The Skinny on Dieting

In Today's Wall Street Journal:

Researchers at the University of California at San Francisco were about to
release a study showing 80% of fourth-grade girls were dieting, and I wanted
to determine: Was this a California oddity, or had AMerica's obsession with
slminess reached the 60-pound weight class?

My Report ended up mirroring the study's results. More than half of the
9-year old girls I surveyed said they were dieting, and 75%-even the skinniest
ones- said they weighed too much. I also spoke to fourth-grade boys and learned
what the girls were up against. "Fat girls aren't like regular girls," one boy
told me. "They aren't attractive."

I was appalled after reading this article. 9-year olds? Then again, my 12-year old cousin Annie also brought up dieting a few times while we devoured ice cream during hot summer days. America has become obsessed with dieting. As I stroll down Barnes and Noble health aisle, it blows my mind the endless streams of dieting books and how to "eat skinny." If we are so obsessed with losing weight, why is there a perverse effect on our obese population? It's this either/or mindset.

But I also feel, in many ways, a reason for a child's self-conscious, awkwardom, is influenced by how parents think of their own image. I'd imagine mommies also face insecurities about their own bodies, but maybe this is one of the many things one shouldn't pass down onto their children.

A middle school teacher:
On lunch duty each day, she notices 10 girls who eat nothing. "WE make them
take a few bites," she says, "But they fight me on it. They say, 'I'm not
hungry,' and I tell them, 'You've been here since 8 a.m. Of course you're


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