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March 8th, 2013
09:36 AM ET

Mom shocked to find seven-year-old's diet plan – author Dara-Lynn Weiss shares her view

Like many parents who clean up their kid’s room, Amy Cheney came across something in her daughter’s room she wishes she hadn’t.

She was straightening out her seven-year-old’s room when she found her "Dieyt" List.”

The poorly spelled strict diet regime lists:
Seventeen pushups two times a day
Sixteen star jumps two times a day
2 yogurt
3 apples
2 kiwi fruit
5 glasses of water
Jog-run up and down the driveway 3 times

Cheney wrote this on her blog,, after the discovery:

"I felt sick. Physically ill. Like someone had knocked the air from my chest. I could feel myself getting increasingly anxious the more words I was able to interpret from her seven-year-old spelling. [...] How did this happen?"

Mom Dara-Lynn Weiss read Cheney’s dilemma from a very personal angle. She’s the author of “The Heavy,” a memoir about putting her own seven-year-old daughter on a diet after doctors told her that she was obese. She comes to “Starting Point” to share her view.

Initially after reading the post, Weiss says she “it was shocking, horrifying and heartbreaking to think that a 7-year-old would make a list like this.” But she began to consider other explanations. “As I gave it more thought and as I read what the mother wrote, what the child wrote and benefitted from the wisdom of hundreds of internet commenters’,” Weiss says, “I thought, how much of this definition of the word diet are we bringing to this?”

In her post, Cheney first blames society for projecting its standards and ideals onto her daughter. But it turns out her daughter spoke to a classmate who was on a diet and she created her own. Weiss asks to consider, therefore, if readers are assuming this child’s goal is to lose weight versus making healthy choices, and giving that a negative connotation.

“I think the story underscores the point that in raising these issues with our children, we are not bringing up something they are not aware of already,” Weiss says. “They are conversations they are having that we should have with them.”

May 4th, 2012
12:17 PM ET

Regulators aim to curb childhood obesity by cutting school bake sales

In an attempt to curb childhood obesity, federal regulators are now preparing the first standards for snacks, sodas and other foods sold outside of regularly scheduled lunch and breakfast at school. These new standards may affect clubs and sports teams that fundraise by selling goods at bake sales.

According to Bloomberg Businessweek, at least eight states already have regulations aimed at limiting these types of fundraising events.

Elizabeth Puccini, the mother of a first grade child in New York, has been protesting the recent regulations. She tells Soledad O'Brien on Starting Point this morning that "due to budget cuts... students are desperate to raise money for their schools and bake sales are a very lucrative way to do that."

Puccini is joined by Stephanie Armour, a food safety reporter for Bloomberg News, who discusses the growing controversy over the food standards.

Filed under: Childhood Obesity • Health