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Child Obesity with a Storybook Ending

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From MomLogic friend and pediatrician Dr. Gwenn, a book review of Fat Tale.

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Fat Tale
By Karen Land
AuthorHouse, $12.99

"Fat Tale, by librarian and puppeteer Karen Land, is a new book to the childhood obesity landscape. What sets this book apart from many others on the market is that it is written for kids, it is simple, and it focuses not only on eating but on empowerment. This book has a happy ending and shows kids how easy it is to not only create a problem but turn it around, if you are brave enough to admit you have a weight and eating problem to being with.

The tale doesn't use heavy handed tactics or guilt but simple, old-fashioned story telling. The premise is very simple: two kids meet a frog and realize the frog has a fondness for junk food. By helping this cute frog, Gorf, satisfy his habit, the kids, too, get hooked on the sugary treats. Soon, all three of the story's protagonists find themselves overweight with a number of serious issues. Gorf can't fit on his lily pad and dive. If he can't dive, he won't be able to hibernate for the winter, which is soon, and could die. The kids are finding the can't fit into their clothes and have no energy at all to do anything athletic like they used to. They all turn to the grownups in their lives and forge a plan to shed the weight and not gain it back.

The ending was the best part of the story for me because there was no promise of a quick fix, just the realization that the path they were all on was not working. While very simplistic in many ways, the book accomplishes so many goals. It clearly shows what happens when you eat and not move. It clearly shows what happens to others if you encourage them to eat unhealthy. And, it shows by contrast what others are doing to help them be in more shape.

The book is billed for preschool through third grade but I'd push it a bit higher. While simplistic for a 4th or 5th grade for kids battling with obesity, sometimes simple is better and this book accomplishes that. Kids in school settings make more and more of their food choices independent of their parents as they progress through the grades. The earlier they learn to balance the pressures of the snacks and treats and eat an overall balanced diet, the healthier they will be. What kids need to learn is it is not the occasional treat that is the problem but the all the time treats. This book demonstrates this nicely by contrasting what the kids were doing with the grownup in their life, Jim, who only has the occasional treat.

Finally, one of the best attributes of the story is it is not preachy and actually puts the onus on the kids for a change. Regardless of who is offering the food, we have to recognize that the bottom line is the kids are the ones make the choices of what to eat and when and that they do have the control. Fat Tale helps show kids that without making them feel lousy about themselves.

All in all, this book is a great addition to the landscape of nutrition books for kids and parents. This is a short tale with a huge morale."

For more from pediatrician Dr. Gwenn, click here.


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