Diets are Starting at Age 5!


dietYou're never quite prepared for the day your kindergartner comes home and announces her friend is on a diet.

We were standing in the bathroom, brushing her teeth before going out to the town Halloween party, where I was prepared to let her eat as much candy as she wanted, then run it all off with her friends on the town playground.

What followed was a parenting fail of the fifth degree. I couldn't say a thing, worried I was going to incriminate myself as a judgmental mother with a history of eating disorders. I've been praying this day would never come.

No such luck. And while you're sitting there, smugly relieved that your kids don't hang out with such riffraff, a little warning: a new survey of the eating habits of American kids conducted by CouponCodes4U shows a quarter of all kids under the age of 12 are on a diet.


The site hit up 6,523 parents to track the eating habits, and they found 26 percent had actually put their kids on diets, and another 11 percent were watching what their kids ate. In light of the childhood obesity crisis, that might not sound that serious.

I watch what my kid eats, don't you? My kid might think it makes me a dictator. I think it keeps me out of jail.

It makes us parents. Good, caring ones at that (Mrs. Obama would be proud).

But only 6 percent of those parents who put their kids on diets did it at their pediatrician's behest. And of all the parents questioned, 58 percent said their kids generally eat junk food the most (24 percent said healthy food came first).

OK, remember what I said about a history of eating disorders? Taking diets into your own hands is bad, people. I know! Been there, have the binge/purge cycle down pat to prove it. And I'm not  letting my kid end up on that same path. Even if her classmate's skipping lunch to maintain her 5-year-old figure.

The American Academy of Pediatrics advises kids avoid fad diets in favor of simply eating healthy food (aka a LOT of vegetables) and getting off their butts to exercise. They say that even for the obese kids, suggesting you -- surprise, surprise -- talk to your pediatrician if you think more extreme measures need to be taken.

And if your kid is coming home talking about their classmate who is on a diet, KidsHealth has a suggestion that will keep your gums from flapping like a guppy like mine. "Everyone has been on a diet," they say. "A diet is simply the collection of the foods you regularly eat."

So my kid is on a diet too. A diet of broccoli and homemade mac and cheese and apples and a whole mess of healthy, balanced food.

What about yours?


Image via floodkoff/Flickr

kids nutrition, kid health


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mindi... mindiemoore

Wow. I am having a hard time wrapping my mind around the idea that a 5 year old thinks they need to go on a diet. That to me is pretty scary.

Kimberly Virga

It is terrible that anybody would think their kid needs a diet, and it's also terrible that 58% say their children mosty eat junk food. Why and how? Yeah, feeding my two year old is NOT a picnic, but he eats tons of cheese, greek yogurt, apples and bananas, broccoli, and pasta, among other healthy things, and he LOVES that food. He chooses apples over cookies any day. So I kinda have to blame the parents; if your kids are eating simply junk food, it's because YOU are buying it.

toria... toriandgrace

I need a little more info, is the kid on a specific popular diet, or did the kid merely say she was on a diet. Couldn't that just mean that mom told her "Our family needs to eat healthy. We're on a diet! We're only going to eat healthy foods." and the child came and told your child she was on a diet? I mean, there are a lot of obese kids that need to go on a diet of fruits, veggies, lean meats, whole grains, etc. It doesn't have to be the attkins diet to be considered a diet. If my kid started gaining too much weight I would sure as heck feel comfortable throwing out any junk food in the house, telling her we were on a diet, and only offering her fruits and veggies for snacks rather than goldfish.. With how fat America is getting, yes kids need diets, they just need to consist of a large variety of healthy food.

Kim24... Kim24kids

All I can say is WOW!!!


Phils... PhilsBabyMama

It sounds crazy that a kid that young would be on a diet, but obesity is starting even earlier than 5. :/    If people would just start teaching their children good eating habits to begin with, we wouldn't have problems like this.  My son rarely eats junk food and when he does it's in moderation.  He's on the same "diet" as his dad and I are on.  We just try to eat healthy foods.

lovin... lovinangels

I found out that my nine year old wasn't eating lunch to avoid gaining weight, because some little snot at school had said she was fat.

She hovers at the bottom of the growth chart, being a normal weight, not under, is a victory. I took her straight to the doctor and had HIM explain to her what kind of damage that can do to her.

And then I cried. A lot. I swore my little girls wouldn't go through that.

nonmember avatar Christine

At 4 1/2 my daughter is proud of her little tummy pooch! She got it right from her Mama, and I got it from my Mama, and my Mama got it from her Mama...get the picture? Tummy pooches run in our family no matter what weight we are. Being that my daughter is 30% in height and 25% in weight I hope the word "diet" does not come out of her mouth for a loooooonnnnnngggggg time!!!!!!

Kersten Kersten

I really don't understand what this article is getting at.  At first it sounds like the author is appalled by a child going on a "diet" but then admits her child is on a "diet of [healthy food]."  Going on a diet doesn't = starving yourself.  When you use the phrase "go on a diet" it just means you are changing your diet.  Everyone has a diet, as long as they're eating!

To me, this is just an attempt at stirring the pot.  Oh, wait, that's what this site is called, The Stir.  I guess I should just expect this crap.

nonmember avatar Kasey

It sounds like just a case of an over-judgmental mom. The kid could have just heard it from somewhere else and thought it sounded cool, kids don't always tell the truth. Or maybe she's also on a "healthy diet" or she could be diabetic, it really doesn't matter as long as the little girl is healthy and only her parents and doctor know that.

Jenny Kay

If  you do have an overweight kid you should never call it a diet you should just start eating better as a family and go out and do activites together.

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