A few weeks ago Weight Watchers released Kurbo by WW, an app which allows children and teenagers between ages 8 and 17 to track what they eat and how much they exercise. The app uses robot system to define foods as “good – eat as much as you want” (green), “eat moderate amounts” (yellow), and “limit” (red). They can also set their current weight and a weight loss goal, and Weight Watchers says it helps kids “choose healthier foods, build better habits and lose weight.”
This app has however received massive backlash and criticism from plenty of concerned parents, dieticians and nutritionists. They say that dieting behaviour should not be encouraged in children and teenagers. It can cause low self esteem and possibly trigger dangerous behaviour like eating disorders: studies have shown that dieting during the teenage years is strongly linked to anorexia. The diet culture also perpetuates the stigma about being overweight. While children are still growing, their weight naturally fluctuates, but a child who is incessantly tracking their weight may be alarmed even though it is perfectly normal. In the current age of social media there is already so much pressure for children and teenagers to look a certain way, and the app could just increase the pressure around body image.
Weight Watcher are however, defending their app. Kurbo says that the app “focuses on behaviour change for healthier eating and more activity, not dieting or calorie counting.” But multiple petitions have been launched by the concerned parties and people are expressing their criticism all over social media.
This app is currently only available in the US, so nobody knows if or when it will reach our shores. Childhood obesity is a growing global epidemic and there are so many resources and information available about healthy eating it’s hard to know what to believe. It’s always a good idea to seek the advice of a professional dietician or nutritionist if you have questions or you’re unsure about healthy eating, for you or your children. Remember that all of the DayToDay meal boxes and add-ons are crafted by our dietician to be healthy and nutritious.