Today, WW (formerly Weight Watchers) announced the launch of a new program called Kurbo by WW, aimed at children and teenagers. (The company changed its name during a rebranding in fall 2018.) According to a press release, Kurbo by WW is “a scientifically-proven behavior change program designed to help kids and teens ages 8-17 reach a healthier weight, derived from Stanford University’s Pediatric Weight Control Program.”
In the press release, WW’s Chief Scientific Officer, Gary Foster, PhD, said that the program is designed to be “part of the solution to address the prevalent public health problem of childhood obesity.” However, some nutritionists that this program puts its young users at risk of developing eating disorders.
“Promoting dieting behaviors in children can lead to those same children developing eating disorders, poor self-esteem, and many other mental and physical health issues,” Sami Main, a life coach who focuses on wellness and nutrition, tells Refinery29. “It’s dangerous to promote dieting behavior in children; an app like this can easily lead to kids fearing food and fearing weight gain for years to come.”
Main points to American Academy of Pediatrics’ 2016 report on the link between obesity prevention efforts and the development of eating disorders in adolescents. The report found that encouraging dieting and weight loss was linked to the development of eating disorders, and recommended that parents focus on promoting a healthy lifestyle — including eating meals together as a family, making fruits and vegetables easily accessible, limiting screen time, and encouraging physical activity — rather than focusing on weight loss and body size.
WW’s Kurbo uses the Traffic Light System to classify food. This system marks different foods as green (foods to eat more of, such as fruits and vegetables), …read more