Keeping our kids healthy and sending positive messages about body image and eating habits isn’t as easy as some may think. WW, the company formerly known as Weight Watchers, is under fire as many parents object to their new app called Kurbo that is aimed at helping kids as young as 8 years old lose weight.
GMA reports about the Kurbo app and how thousands of critics have responded by signing a petition to have the kids weight loss app banned. The app itself helps kids to keep track of all the food they are eating each day using a traffic light system. WW stresses that kids can eat all foods, but the ones deemed “red light” should be every once in a while foods, “yellow light” items should be eaten in moderation and “green light” foods are healthy all the time.
Creator of the Change.org petition to remove the app and, Holly Stallcup, understands just how tricky and possibly detrimental talking to young kids about weight loss can be. Stallcup, who has also suffered from eating disorders in the past explains, “The story that you are hearing over and over again is all of us who started struggling at the age that this app is targeted for saying it was already bad enough without an app.” She adds, “If we had had this app in our hands to literally log every bite of food to eat, we know that some of us would have actually died from our diseases because it would have so enabled our unhealthy, mentally ill thinking.”
Besides logging every bite of food, the app also provides kids with “success stories” of other WW members their age showing before and after pictures of young kids who have been through the program and lost weight. Critics feel these testimonials and pictures have the propensity to send very negative messages, causing kids to feel bad about their bodies or compare themselves harshly to others. New York dietician Keri Glassman explains, “Looking at before and after pictures of kids who have lost weight is absolutely something that could lead to children to feel horrible about themselves and it really is a form of body shaming.
Co-founder of the app, Joanna Strober, believes the critics are wrong and that childhood obesity is such an important issue that should not be taken lightly. Strober saw success using the app with her son who was overweight and struggling to stay at a healthy weight for his age. She says, “As a mom whose son struggled with his weight at a young age, I can personally attest to the importance and significance of having a solution like Kurbo by WW, which is inherently designed to be simple, fun and effective.”
What do you think of WW’s Kurbo app to help children and teens lose weight?
Do you think weight loss apps are appropriate for kids?