CARLE PLACE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A diet app for kids?
Rolled out this week, the Kurbo app is designed to get kids to eat healthier. But critics fear the message it sends is anything but healthy, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported Thursday.
At Jones Beach, with bodies of all shapes and sizes, eyebrows are raised over a new weight-loss app for kids ages 8-17.
“I just think we shouldn’t be focusing on weight with young kids,” one person said.
“There could be body shaming going on,” another cautioned.
Weight Watchers, now called WW, has rolled out the new Kurbo app, which it bills as a scientifically proven method for getting kids to improve eating habits and getting more active using this traffic light system developed at Stanford.
Some say it’s a noble goal.
“I think it’s awesome, being that this country is known for children being obese at such a young age,” one person said.
But it’s the before-and-after photos of youngsters that have turned off some teens.
“That’s so bad for your mental health. That’s so sad, too,” one young woman said.
“Then you think you have to look a certain way,” another said.
The hashtag #wakeupweightwatchers is gaining steam, along with petitions by eating disorder survivors that call the app irresponsible.
“This is not only not the way to help children be healthy, but it is actually setting them up for eating disorders, which we know literally kill,” petition creator Holly Stallcup said.
Cohen Children’s Hospital’s weight management program accepts kids as young as 8, but the focus is never on pounds.
“There is a lot of evidence that shows when we start too early getting children involved in their weight management in the wrong way, then it can be deleterious for them,” registered dietitian Stephanie DiFigilia-Pack said. “They have these large amounts of weight loss, these children, 8-year-olds, 10-year-olds, losing a lot of wwight. That would not be recommended.”
Experts say losing too much weight too young can affect a child’s height.
The company responding to criticism, with a spokesperson saying the app, “focuses on behavior change for healthier eating and more activity, not dieting or calorie-counting. Studies show that behavior-based weight management programs do not cause eating disorders. In fact, they provide kids with tools to make balanced food choices and manage their weight in a healthy way.”
The founders of Kurbo point to built-in safeguards in the app for children who lose weight too quickly, and the fact that it was developed in part by pediatricians.