Weight Watchers’ newly-launched diet app for kids sparks controversy


MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (WCCO) — A new app aimed at kids is leaving a bad taste in some expert’s mouths.

Weight Watchers just launched a healthy-eating program called “Kurbo” for kids between the ages of 8 and 17.

Critics say the diet app could lead to lifelong problems with food.

At a packed lunch at Yum! Kitchen and Bakery in Minnesota, mother Isabel Omolo was shown Kurbo by reporter marielle mohs of CNN affiliate WCCO.

Omolo said, “My only problem would be for a child feeling like they’re being shamed into losing weight.”

Alyia Appelsies and Laura Pacala, both 16, see the benefit of the app. They see it as a tool to help them deal with something that already exists.

“Feeling good about yourself is something that teenagers struggle with,” Pacala said. “Anything would try and help diminsh that or get rid of that in any way, I think is a good thing.”

Kurbo works with what the app calls a “traffic light system” to promote portion control.

Kids can eat whatever they want, but categorize the veggies and fruits as green, meat and pasta as yellow and candy and soda as red.

Kurbo says it’s proven to be a safe way for effective weight loss.

At the Melrose Center in St. Louis Park, they treat people with eating disorders of all ages and genders. When WCCO spoke to the medical professionals there, they said they were alarmed by the app Kurbo and do not recommend it for kids or teens.

Heather Gallivan, the center’s clinical director, said, “We know that dieting for children is not healthy.”

Gallivan added, “I think it is challenging on how to approach that with children and adolescents. you have to be very careful about how you talk about these things and the messages you’re sending.”

Showing success stories on Kurbo’s website is one of those mixed messages Gallivan referred to. There are before and after pictures of kids and how much weight they lost on the program

Omolo said she sees the benefit, but says she would not let her kids use it.

“Like it feels so serious for a child to be thinking about that kind of complexity of how you eat, how you exercise, but at the same time it’s necessary,” she said.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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