Review by: Daniel B. Jones, MD, MS
Associate Professor, Harvard Medical School (Bariatric Surgeon)
...Obesity is a major healthcare problem. Billions are spent on diet aids and approximately 200,000 weight loss operations are performed annually in the United States. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates more than 21 million kids worldwide are struggling with obesity. Obese children and adolescents are at high risk for serious health problems as they develop into adulthood. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Childhood Obesity, one study found that approximately 80 percent of children who were overweight at ages 10 to 15 were obese adults at age 25. It is a startling fact that this generation of children will have a shorter life span than any other generation. Ironically, many of our schools have cut out physical education to meet budget demands and sell soda and ice cream in the school cafeterias to increase revenue. Despite this major healthcare crisis among our children, too little has been done to prevent obesity.
Nurse Linda Trainor, author of Bradley the Dog Who Couldn’t Stop Eating, addresses this problem and educates about fitness while empowering youth. This short story is about an overweight dog that faces the ridicule of being the fat kid. He shares his dreams and one day decides he will seek help and get control with the help of the baseball coach. It is not easy, but Bradley makes it. He sheds the unwanted weight with better food choices and exercise.
The book starts with realistic cartoons of Bradley engaged in activities typical of sedentary children by former Disney artist John Ewing, who co-illustrated Jungle Book and Winnie-the-Pooh. Bradley flips popcorn into his mouth while lying in front of a large-screen TV and slurps ice cream in one hand while playing video games with the other. One page even shows Bradley dreaming that he is atop a mountain of doughnuts with flying cup cakes. The cartoons in the book are enjoyed by kids and adults alike. In preparation of reviewing this book, I shared it with my own children. Ryan, age 14, thinks the book is great for any kid from the first to sixth grade. “It’s better than most of the health stuff we read.” Leah, age 9, says the book teaches “good nutrition and being healthy.” Cara, also age 9, says the book teaches that, “With hard work you can reach your goals.” Both girls shared their new book with schoolmates and it received high reviews from both boys and girls. The book is also an easy read for early readers and provides a fun-filled story for all ages.
A CAN-DO MESSAGE
The key to addressing this childhood obesity epidemic is prevention and emphasizing a healthy diet, regular exercise, and a positive “can-do” attitude like Bradley’s. He offers tips for a healthier lifestyle and a philosophy for better living. Children need a role model for a healthy lifestyle and that is where Bradley steps up to the plate. Bradley is the “can-do” dog for “can-do” kids.
Bradley leads a fit kid’s nation by example. In spite of Bradley being picked on by other pups and not being able to keep up with them on the track, Bradley gets angry and faces his problem. “I don’t want to be picked on or picked last anymore; I want to play and have fun, too.” The book focuses on having fun as the key for physical fitness. The coach acknowledges Bradley’s dream. Artist John Ewing uses a baseball field to outline a course of action for Bradley. “First Base: Believe in Yourself. Second Base: Be Healthy. Third Base: Be Active. Home Plate: Practice, Practice, PRACTICE.” Bradley follows the coach’s plan one base at a time. He pictures himself as a FIT PAW PUP POOCH, drops the TV controller, and engages in a potpourri of physical exercise that includes swimming, track, and field. Before you know it, Bradley has the skill, power to have fun, and is fit too!
BRADLEY HITS A HOMERUN FOR CHILDREN’S HEALTH and FITNESS
The book is written at a 4-to-8-year-old reading level. It is a simple story using cartoon characters to profoundly influence the life of a child. The message is straightforward—become healthy and fit. The book lets kids know that if Bradley can do it, they can, too. As a “health-food hero,” Bradley provides a mouthpiece to lead a fit kid’s nation. He is to obesity what Smokey the Bear is to forest fires.
The book can be purchased here.