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Weight Watchers App For Kids (!!!!)

abasketabasket 19195 replies854 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
This has been in the news for a few days but before I heard about it in the news as receiving backlash I read an announcement about it and thought "this is not ok!"

Here is an article if you have no info:
https://www.cnbc.com/2019/08/17/weight-watchers-new-childrens-app-kurbo-faces-backlash.html
(there is a great NYT article as well from a professional but I won't link it since I know for many it's behind a paywall)
Key Points to know:
KEY POINTS
Weight Watchers introduced Kurbo by WW for adolescents aged 8 to 17.
WW is facing backlash over the new app.
Some nutritionists worry Kurbo could promote unhealthy relationships with food.

I work in Pediatrics and have personal interest in nutrition and especially kids nutrition.
Kids eat what is put before them, what is available in the home/cupboard or follow example. Food shaming and obsession is NOT ok for young children.
(also this lists that the app is for "adolescents 8-17" - 8 years old is not an adolescent!)

Parents need to take the lead in eating by example.
Parents need to take the lead by stocking the home with nutritious foods.
Parents need to take the lead by making exercise and movement and play a daily routine starting at a very young age.
Parents need to take the lead by teaching nutrition and portion size and such from a young age in daily conversation at meals in a positive manner.
Parents need to take the lead by quietly monitoring their child's weight and habits and present food choices in a positive manner and encourage good health.

I'm speaking largely for the youngest kids of focus here realizing that teens have greater access to buying, cooking, drive through buying of poor food choices.

I don't have a problem - at all - with WW for adults who have made the choice for themselves to follow this regime. To target kids with an weight problem label without proper primary prevention at home is just awful.

Opinions?

18 replies
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Replies to: Weight Watchers App For Kids (!!!!)

  • sushirittosushiritto 3876 replies11 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    No argument from me. I agree with you 100%.
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  • abasketabasket 19195 replies854 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    High five @sushiritto ! That might be a first for us! ;) (mostly just kidding!!!)
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  • abasketabasket 19195 replies854 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I was a kid who was more round than I needed to be. I remember being SOOO embarrassed that my mom referenced my weight as why I needed to start wearing a bra at a younger age than my friends. She also was one to want us to "clean our plate". I was not a very physically active kid. Low to moderate I'd say.

    It was probably around the 8-11 or 12 time that all three of my kids were a little round. We did have snacks in the house, we did often have dessert. They did play outside on a regular basis. But I'll admit they ate their fair share of oven baked chicken nuggets and french fries even at home. My H is a poor eating example and is very limited on what he is willing to eat. Today my three eat and cook MUCH more variety than H ever has and all three exercise regularly and maintain a good weight. But they all also really, really enjoy good food and cooking. Food is an important aspect of their life.
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  • jonrijonri 7277 replies134 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 19
    I have rather mixed feelings about this--having struggled with my weight most of my life. I think it might really be a good program IF a pediatrician had to approve each new subscriber. So you wouldn't have stick-thin mom signing up daughter who takes after stockier dad's side of the family.

    I recently saw an Off-Broadway show--Rinse, Repeat-- about a young woman with an eating disorder. After months in a treatment facility, she's permitted to come home for the weekend. Her parents want her to come home for good.

    As the story unfolds, the audience realizes that many elements of the family dynamic trigger her disorder. (The play is semi-autobiographical and the author also stars in the play.)

    I don't think an app like this is a problem in and of itself. I think it's the way it might be used. Lets not pretend though that the issues it might exacerbate are CAUSED by the device. For example, unlike the woman who said she wanted to barf when she read that one of the reasons given for wanting to lose weight was to please one's parents, I think getting that information could be very helpful

    If anyone actually monitors this thing, a high/normal BMI coupled with a reason of wanting to please parents could, at least in theory, trigger an intervention which might convince a parent--usually, but not always a mom--that dieting isn't necessary.
    edited August 19
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  • abasketabasket 19195 replies854 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Well I think if the child has to use the apps the parents should have to do. And be just as accountable. (I actually don't approve of kids using it though - but I DO think parents need to be accountable!!)

    I have yet to see/read a nutritionist (that I know) or a psychologist or respected pediatrician in my social media circle approve of the method.
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  • MarianMarian 13198 replies83 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    When I first heard about the app, I was concerned because it spans the years of the puberty growth spurt, when kids tend to put on a lot of height and a lot of weight, but not at the same time. It would be very easy to mistake a normal puberty growth pattern for a weight problem.

    The more I read about it, the more I realize that this is only one of the issues with Kurbo. There seems to be a very realistic concern that it could push vulnerable kids in the direction of eating disorders. I'm no expert, but I understand the seriousness of these disorders, and it doesn't seem that Kurbo has enough safeguards against them. No medical clearance is needed to participate. No qualified professional supervises the child's participation. It's scary.
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  • sushirittosushiritto 3876 replies11 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    IMO, it’s using technology to try and solve the obesity problem, because the parent has abdicated the “good parenting” responsibility.
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 6996 replies50 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I agree with you 100% @abasket. Kids are eating what their parents are buying and preparing, and doing what is being modeled to them. I could maybe see an app targeted at 16+ where the older teens might be able to help in family grocery shopping, menu planning, and cooking but not the younger ages.
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  • MarianMarian 13198 replies83 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    IMO, it’s using technology to try and solve the obesity problem, because the parent has abdicated the “good parenting” responsibility.

    I think part of the appeal is that someone other than the parent will be acting as the "food police," and this in itself is not a bad thing. In fact, it might be one of the better features of the medically supervised in-person program on which the app is based.

    But unlike the program that inspired it, Kurbo is not run by health professionals and does not involve in-person meetings where well-trained people can monitor the kids and families for undesirable effects.
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  • abasketabasket 19195 replies854 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    An 8 year old doesn't need ANYONE to be the "food police". Kids eat what is in the cupboards or on the table. If anyone needs food police it's the parents buying and preparing food.

    @Marian very discouraging to hear Kurbo is not run by health professionals.
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  • MarianMarian 13198 replies83 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    @abasket, there may be health professionals involved in running the business as a whole, but the coaches do not have to be registered dietitians or psychologists or nurses or any other type of qualified professional.

    I agree with your point about kids eating what's available. When I said "food police," I meant things like deciding whether or not the child can have a second helping of a nutritious but relatively high-calorie food at dinner or deciding which choices are acceptable when the family is eating away from home. It might be better in terms of parent-child tension if it's Kurbo, rather than mom or dad, that persuades a child to have a second helping of fruit salad rather than beef stew or if it's Kurbo that motivates the child to choose a small sandwich or salad rather than a triple burger with everything when the family stops for lunch while out shopping.
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  • sushirittosushiritto 3876 replies11 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 20
    On the Diet & Exercise thread, @Midwest67 posted about an Instagram page she enjoys following called "Westminster Strength & Training" in MD. Check it out, when you have time. There are many short videos of young boys and girls doing strength training. There are also older folks too, but that's not what this thread is about. The parents should be applauded.

    Anyway, while not all parents and their children can access a gym, I think parents can do a better job of emphasizing a healthy diet and exercise. I read those threads here about HS students taking 6-7 AP's a year, and I think, do these kids also get outside and play/exercise? What are they eating? How much do they sleep? etc.

    You can show them the path, but they'll have to walk the path themselves.
    edited August 20
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  • abasketabasket 19195 replies854 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I personally don't want to see kids under 13 or so at a gym unless they are participating in a fun activity like swim class or volleyball lessons or something. Just take them to the park or the back yard and play! Exercise should = fun with peers at that age I think.
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  • SybyllaSybylla 3718 replies47 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 20
    I think that obesity is now more a social, political, and educational (not school) issue, less a simple health issue. There is no way to escape that there is pro obesity engineered into modern life (US, UK, AUS, etc, and now developing countries). Educated literate moneyed parents have no reason to have fat children. Pediatricians need to read this group the riot act. The rest, that needs to by policy driven, what people call food is no longer food. I can't say the whole food industry needs fixing, but the what passes as food industry needs some massive policing. The obesity problem is created in a spiteful way by corporations, this can no longer be ignored. I also don't know why we aren't calling overweight and obesity an eating disorder, all the people that are terrified of talking about weight being a trigger are also part of the problem. in AA don't they call that codependency?
    edited August 20
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  • sushirittosushiritto 3876 replies11 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    For me, it'll just depend on the kid.

    There are kid's classes held at my gym, where they'll do mostly body weight exercises such as climb ropes, pushups, pullups, burpees, over/under obstacles, etc. Then there's strength training with pulling/pushing sleds, lifting of weights or odd objects (e.g., sandbag, atlas stone). There are progressions and scaling depending age, skills and strength. The kids seem to have a blast. In fact, maybe too much for my taste. :wink:

    And then there are the gymnasts, a very special breed.
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  • momo2x2018momo2x2018 830 replies49 threadsRegistered User Member
    I think if it were named something like Dora Explores Healthy Living
    and it incorporated fun activities such as cartoon quizzes, name that fruit, put your phone down and skip on the spot for 10 seconds, etc., it would be a great tool.
    Obesity, the rise in diabetes and heart disease and other lifestyle diseases, is at epidemic proportions.

    Many people either don't know how to stock a healthy fridge, are too busy working two jobs, grew up on burgers and fries so that's all they know etc. I believe change has to start somewhere, and why not with something that can easily be changed, such as school lunches, a phone app, distributing apples at the school gate as kids enter etc. I believe the the RIGHT app (i'm not suggesting WL is it) could have a profound impact on the next generation
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 77783 replies678 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    abasket wrote: »
    I personally don't want to see kids under 13 or so at a gym unless they are participating in a fun activity like swim class or volleyball lessons or something. Just take them to the park or the back yard and play! Exercise should = fun with peers at that age I think.

    A generation or few ago, kids would go with their friends and play on their own... but today's helicopter parents won't allow that without parental supervision.
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