Weight Watchers Is Criticised For Launching Weight Loss App For Kids
A new weight loss app designed for children has been accused of promoting unhealthy eating habits and eating disorders in kids as young as eight.
Kurbo, which launched on Tuesday (13th August), is owned by WW (formerly Weight Watchers) and is billed as an aide to "help kids and teens reach a healthier weight and build healthy habits."
The launch was announced on Twitter alongside a promo video in which 12-year-old Julianna speaks about improving her running mile time at school, and her mother Zsuzsanna relishes in no longer having to be "the food police."
"It's about being more healthy, and active and feeling good about yourself," the preteen tells prospective users.
The app - which costs $69 (£57) per month and is currently only available in the US - provides children with their own coach, who they have a 15 minute video chat with per week, and they are encouraged to follow a Stanford University-backed 'traffic light' system to manage intake of unhealthy foods.
Naturally the company, which rebranded as WW last year, is receiving flack for the "tone-deaf" app which is being described as "a tool that can trigger eating disorders in children."
The "Success stories" section on Kurbo's website is particularly hard to swallow; Robby, aged 10, who lost 42 pounds (3 stone) and Juliana, 15, who lost 40 pounds (2 stone 12 lbs) are just two of the app's triumphant users.
"Fear of food. Fixation on 'healthy eating'. Fixation on exercise. These are all symptoms of extremely dangerous eating disorders. And that's what this kind of program will encourage in kids," wrote one enraged Twitter user.
"This is disgusting and horrifying," said another.
"You're excited to introduce a tool that can trigger eating disorders in children?? okay," penned another.
Another said the news of the app had left her emotional, writing: "I'm crying in my kitchen. how could you do this? i struggled enough in childhood & adulthood with eating & weight without being exposed to these apps. i cry for the children of today."
Gary Foster, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer at WW, says of Kurbo: "At WW, we have decades of expertise in scaling science-backed behavior change programs, uniquely positioning us to be a part of the solution to address the prevalent public health problem of childhood obesity."
He adds: "Alongside a distinguished group of leaders in pediatric health and nutrition, we've carefully developed this platform to be holistic, rewarding and inspirational so kids, teens and families get the tools and guidance they need to manage their environment and build and sustain healthy habits."
Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock