Children and Teens Afraid to Eat
Helping Youth in Today’s Weight-Obsessed World

by Frances M. Berg

I CAN’T RECOMMEND THIS BOOK STRONGLY ENOUGH! Ms. Berg writes with compassion while exposing and dispelling many prejudicial beliefs. . . . One of the best messages that this book expresses is the basic human right to be treated as an individual.

—Journal of Family Life

THE AUTHOR PRESENTS A COMPELLING CASE . . . Anyone who works in the area of weight control and disordered eating will want a copy of this book on his or her shelf. . . . The discussion on how to help overweight children and children with eating disorders is very well written, featuring excellent tables that highlight practical tips for parents and for nutrition educators.

Journal of the American Dietetic Association

AS SCHOOL NURSES WE REGULARLY ENCOUNTER students who may be struggling with negative body images and inappropriate eating attitudes and behaviors. Afraid to Eat provides insight into this nationwide weight-loss and thinness obsession, and offers assistance . . . Clear guidelines are presented.

School Nurse News Academy

BERG SERVES UP A FEAST OF FACTS on four major problems: dysfunctional eating, eating disorders, size prejudice, and overweight. Condemning “diets,” she instead proposes a wellness paradigm based on the Canadian “vitality” model, which calls for moderation in eating habits and an active, playful lifestyle. The book contains advice for parents but emphasizes that social change is needed in schools, organized sports, and federal policies that focus too narrowly on antiobesity. Unlike other books on this topic, the unique problems of boys and minority children are also explored. Berg’s book is a valuable consciousness raiser. Recommended for public libraries for both parents and concerned professionals.

—Library Journal

WHAT CAN WE DO TO COMBAT destructive influences and feelings about weight? According to Berg, it must begin with food. Setting a nutritionally-sound example, encouraging regular exercise, questioning advertising and role model images and focusing on accepting kids for who they are, rather than what they look like, she says.

—The New York Post

AS THE PARENT of a daughter who acquired a serious eating disorder in her teens, I can only wish that Frances Berg’s book had come along sooner, and health and education professionals had heeded its advice years ago. Thankfully we have it now . . . Long overdue.

—William J. Fabrey
Director, Council on Size & Weight Discrimination

BERG POINTS OUT HOW the medical profession’s insistence on achievement of ideal weight as a national health priority has reinforced and validated this obsession with body size and shape. Instead of improved health, efforts that were supposed to help people manage their weight, have backfired, contributing to an epidemic of body dissatisfaction, size discrimination, restrictive eating, bizarre eating disorders, poor nutrition, and increased depression, anxiety, frustration, and low self-esteem among our nation’s youth.

—Joanne Ikeda, MA, RD
California Extension Nutrition Education Specialist

BEST OF ALL, Berg provides many practical solutions to the problems she addresses. This is more than a penetrating analysis of a major public health problem; it is also a how-to book of solutions. This is a book on healthy living that goes beyond the physical to mental and social health.

People interested in eating disorders will love this book. It is must reading for people who don’t know about eating disorders, but do have daughters or know other young women they are concerned about.

—National Council Against Health Fraud Newsletter

AN INDISPENSABLE RESOURCE. . . Berg, founder and editor of Healthy Weight Journal, has read just about everything written on this subject and probably has the most comprehensive library on the topic anywhere in the world. Her jewel of a book is a wake-up call to health education professionals to address all aspects of the problem. . . This is not light reading. But it is extremely interesting.

—BBW: Big Beautiful Woman

TEACHERS WILL BENEFIT from the discussion of goals for elementary students, advice on how to spot weight problems in athletes and best address body image and self-esteem. Berg, a national expert in healthy weight education and weight loss fraud, insists that we must allow our children to eat without fear . . . It is a major health crisis when more than two-thirds of high school girls are dieting, one-half are severely undernourished and one-third are occasionally smoking, mostly in an effort to be thinner. . . . Teenage boys mirror these same problems to a lesser extent.

Children and Teens Afraid to Eat promotes a n ew health paradigm for children. If today’s children are to grow up with normal eating habits, changes must come in attitudes, lifestyle, society and national health policy.

—Rochester Times Union, Rochester, N.Y.

THERE’S A SILENT EPIDEMIC so large and extreme, it could only happen in this weight-obsessed culture: children’s fear of eating. Six-year-olds understand that fat is undesirable and by fourth grade, 40 percent or more of girls “diet” at least occasionally. A survey of young girls revealed that they were more afraid of becoming fat than they were of cancer, nuclear war or losing their parents.

The good news is that Healthy Weight Journal editor Berg, is out to change these attitudes. Her call to action is loud, clear, and above all, provides the framework for change. Anyone involved in shaping the eating habits of the young must read this book, especially parents and teachers.

—CHOICE, American Library Association

CHILDREN AND TEENS AFRAID TO EAT IS A MUST READ for teachers. The pressures caused by the weight crisis are affecting academic achievement in our youth. It’s time for school staff and students to become aware of the size bias pandemic and its consequences, and mobilize to liberate all students to achieve their fullest potential.

—Linda L. Johnson, MS
Director School Health Programs
Department of Public Education, ND

A MUCH NEEDED BOOK . . . Berg dares to speak out on behalf of parents, educators, health professionals, and all members of society. The news (on nutrient deficiencies) should be alarming, but the media’s attention is fixated on obesity fear rather than long-term health.

Berg skillfully uses personal accounts to depict the horrific pain that large children and teens endure. This is an issue that should touch our hearts deeply, make us angry, and give us motivation to bring about change in our school system. Inspires the reader to action.

Journal of Treatment & Prevention

A GOOD BLEND of fact and research with personal experiences. Setting the stage for disordered eating by the family, the school (teachers, peers, coaches) and health professionals is discussed along with tips on danger signs and how disordered eating can be remedied. Weight issues among males and ethnic groups are also discussed.

The book contains many tables, charts and an appendix to emphasize main points and for easy reference. This book is a resource for parents, teachers, coaches and health professionals.

—Pediatric Nutrition

AN EXTRAORDINARY contribution to both professionals and the public . . . Identifies the cultural, social, physiological, emotional and spiritual issues facing kids today and how these issues collide, resulting in a generation of kids afraid to eat. Ms. Berg is an award winning writer and has a gift for gathering and clearly explaining how these forces influence our children relationally and developmentally.

A useful chart details dysfunctional eating from inconsistent eating to eating disorders. The book is also a storehouse of charts, graphs, lists, and short articles essential to nutrition professionals working with children and adolescents. Whether you are a workshop leader, counselor, author, educator, coach or in marketing and advertising, these resources will be valuable time after time. Children and Teens Afraid to Eat demands that as a nation and as health care professionals we deal with these issues in healthier, more effective ways.

PULSE:Dietitians in Sports, Cardiovascular and Wellness

A GROUND-BREAKING BOOK about an issue in our culture that is affecting almost every child in ways that range from detrimental to disastrous. . . . We need a national awareness of an intolerable situation that will not self-correct. Afraid to Eat needs to be read, discussed, argued about, and acted upon.

—Academy for Eating Disorders Newsletter

CHILDREN AND TEENS AFRAID TO EAT indicts society for this obsession with thinness . . . the obsession and its consequences amount to perpetrating fraud on innocent children. This insightful book shows how to challenge the status quo, and it’s easy to read, too.

— Kentucky Currents, Kentucky Dietetic Association

ANYONE WHO HAS CHILDREN OR WORKS WITH CHILDREN should read this book! In a land of plenty, our children are starving because they are afraid to eat. Berg not only reveals the truth about how we have instilled the fear to eat in our children, but provides suggestions on how to change what we have done.

—Wayne C. Miller, PhD
Professor, Exercise Science and Nutrition
George Washington University Medical Center


by What’s New in Family and Consumer Science

CHILDREN AND TEENS AFRAID TO EAT DEFINES THE PROBLEMS of eating in detail, is factual, well documented, and gives many ideas about what could be done. It points the finger where it belongs. There are a number of ways to think about and deal with size at all ages. This is very well done. All the information is well documented by quality sources. This book would be excellent for Family Consumer Science college students, reports for health classes, resources for adults who need guidance and information . . . (and) a source of comfort for the parent of a child with eating problems.

What’s New in FCS Awards evaluation

AFRAID TO EATIS ONE OF THE MOST important books of the decade. Frances Berg has articulated the dimensions of a problem which is growing more critical every day — a problem which will not go away unless major shifts occur in our own attitudes and in some of our official public policies. Only someone with Ms. Berg’s unique vantage point as editor of Healthy Weight Journal is in a position to see and define so clearly the damage being done to our children by current approaches to weight in our society. An excellent work! Clear, reasonable strategies to change the status quo that can be immediately adopted by parents, teachers, health professionals and policy makers.

—Karen A. Petersmarck, PhD, MPH, RD
Michigan Department of Community Health

BERG ALSO BLAMES America’s approach to food… misguided notions about weight and food have led to a range of problems, including obesity, eating disorders, eating dysfunction and size prejudice.

—Los Angeles Times

AFRAID TO EAT IS ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS I HAVE ENCOUNTERED… thorough, engaging and motivating… well presented and easy to follow.

—Marie Cochrane, Director
National Institute for Compulsive Eaters

BERG CHALLENGES THE IDEAL of being thin and documents the profound mental and physical effects on children and teens. Her book also offers useful guidelines for making changes.

—Dallas Family

A SUPERB JOB of pulling together the facts and research! Afraid to Eat equips educators to work with teens with confidence. Thoughtful insight . . . detailed.

—Linda Omichinski, RD
President, HUGS International

PARENTS SHOULD STOP DIETING NOW, instead of running after new weight loss programs and products while their kids watch their bizarre behavior, thinking it’s normal, according to Berg.

—All About Kids, Cincinnatti

BERG BELIEVES THE DESIRE TO CONTROL WEIGHT drives young girls to unhealthy behaviors like diet pills and smoking… Size prejudice is so extreme that Afraid to Eat dedicates a whole chapter to it. In some cases this prejudice is deadly. The news has carried reports of larger adolescents who so dreaded the daily torments from peers that they killed themselves.

—Fargo Forum

THIS IS THE FIRST BOOK to present the devastating effects of our culture’s obsession with thinness and dieting on all of our children. It should serve as a call to action for all parents, educators and health care professionals in America.

—Joseph McVoy, PhD, Director Eating Disorders, Radford, VA

AFRAID TO EATADDRESSES THE GROWING PROBLEM of children who live in an environment that gives them inappropriate messages about their body weight, size and shape.

The author explains with example after example how poorly the nation has dealt with weight issues in the past. She points out how the old ways have not worked and examines new approaches to deal with weight issues in healthy ways.

A call to action with specific steps to address the current situation gives the reader concrete ways to address the crisis.

—Ventures, Nutrition Entrepreneurs
American Dietetic Association