WW Has Released A Weight Loss App For Kids And Unsurprisingly People Are Upset

WW Has Released A Weight Loss App For Kids And Unsurprisingly People Are Upset

In case you missed it, last fall Weight Watchers enhanced itself as WW, committing to focus more on wellness than weight loss. And in one of its recent moves, WW launched Kurbo, a disputed app designed to help kids and teens ages 8 to 17 develop healthy eating habits and get active.
The app uses a traffic light color scheme to try to make it easier for kids to choose healthier foods, a system the company says has proven to be a safe and effective weight loss strategy. (For example, green foods can be eaten at any time, yellow foods should be portioned, and red foods should make you stop and think.)
But since the release of the application, the reception has been mixed. While the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that one in five children and adolescents in the United States are obese, putting these children at risk for ill health, it is questionable whether programs like these are helping or harm their target audience. (WW was also criticized last year when it announced it would be offering its program for free to teens aged 13 to 17.)
Dr Brooke Sweeney, an adolescent weight management specialist at the Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, told TIME that it is helpful to intervene at a young age. But previously, the American Academy of Pediatrics has also advised families to prevent talking about weight with children and instead promote a healthy lifestyle.
While Kurbo helps you track your food for free, with a paid membership you can access weekly recordings with a coach. A WW spokesperson told HuffPost the company does not have a threshold for accreditation, but coaches take a minimum of six to eight hours of initial training and three and a half hours of continuing education. Some of the coaches listed on the site have degrees in communication, economics and tourism management.
According to TIME, these trainers are trained to spot signs of messy eating or unhealthy weight loss, a concern that has arisen among many who have heard of WW’s new app. Kurbo co-founder Joanna Strober also told Refinery29 that both the free and paid versions of Kurbo alert families if there are signs of developing eating disorders. Strober also told the site that Kurbo’s approach has not been shown to extend the risk of eating disorders.
However, people like Abby Langer, a registered dietitian since 1999, find the app extremely disturbing. “My opinion is that you shouldn’t put the kids on a diet, period,” she told ELLE.com, saying she didn’t believe you were teaching children about well-being by telling them to track their food.
“We also know that diets do not work many a times,” explained Langer. “Actually, I’m sure what they’re going with: they’re trying to build loyalty for brand for the rest of these kids’ lives.”
When asked about the best solutions for trying to solve childhood obesity, Langer mentioned that it can be helpful for a parent to model healthy choices, but also admits that obesity is complicated and doesn’t come with a one-size-fits-all solution: “It’s multifactorial. It’s psycho-social. It’s socio-economic. People are commonly not obese just because they love food. There is so much behind it.”

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