Weight Watchers recently launched a healthy-eating program called Kurbo for users between ages 8 to 17. Critics say the diet app could lead to lifelong problems with food.
The app is designed to help kids reach a healthier weight, but some experts say the new app is leaving a bad taste in their mouths.
“It’s a noble idea to tackle childhood obesity. This is not the way to go about it.” Harper Grace Niedermeyer developed an eating disorder when she was 12. She’s now an advocate who says Kurbo is putting young users at risk of developing an eating disorder.
“It sends the message that your worth lies in how much you weigh or what you eat,” said Niedermeyer.
The app uses a traffic light system to classify foods. Veggies and fruits are green, meat and pasta are yellow, and candy and soda are red.
“It’s teaching children from a very young age to not intuitively trust their bodies,” said Niedermeyer.
There are other goals to choose from too like increase self-confidence, please parents, and have clothes fit better.
“One of the first screens that come up is ‘Why do you want to lose weight?’ and it gives you like 10 different choices. One of them being, ‘make my parents happy,'” said Niedermeyer.
Niedermeyer says Weight Watchers should do more research on the nutritional value of foods they suggest for children’s diets rather than moralizing foods as good or bad.
Kurbo responded to online criticism, saying, Kurbo by Weight Watchers focuses on behavior change for healthier eating and more activity, not dieting or calorie counting.