Weight Watchers made a huge change within the past year by rebranding to just WW, but that isn’t the only change they made. They also developed the app Kurbo by WW, which helps kids and teenagers lose weight. 

Yes, you read that right. This app helps minors lose weight and supposedly learn how to make healthy food choices. Medical and health professionals everywhere have been sounding the sirens about this app for tons of different reasons. Honestly, what the heck is WW thinking?

In my five years of being a personal trainer, I have trained maybe two teenagers. They are honestly my LEAST favorite group to train and in my experience, the least likely to see any sort of progress because they are, well, KIDS. Kids who are dealing with school, puberty, parents, friends, and just all the other challenges that come with being a kid today.

My personal opinion is that unless told by a medical professional that a child needs to lose weight, kids and teenagers should NOT be focused on losing weight. If they are told by a medical professional that they need to lose weight, using an app is not the way to go. 

Start with the parents.

Educating the kid’s parents is probably where we need to start for multiple reasons, but the main reason is this: the kid, in most cases, learned their eating habits from someone, and that someone is likely the person or people raising them. 

Develop healthy habits, not restrictions.

This app labels foods using stoplight colors, which automatically teaches kids to stay away from certain foods. This is an awful idea because it encourages deprivation instead of developing healthy, balanced habits… like moderation and portion control instead of just staying away from the food. Not to mention, if a young person has too many “red light” foods, then they may start to feel guilty, which reinforces that bad relationship with food. This can honestly lead to disordered thoughts and eating.

Focus on physical activity, too.

It is important, for multiple reasons, that kids get involved with physical activities, too! Not only will it help them develop even more healthy habits, but it will get them away from the screens and hanging out with friends or family. Exercise has all sorts of proven benefits for people, especially kids, like increased self-esteem, less anxiety and/or depression, and increased information retention (therefore performing well in school). 

Above all, we need to be teaching our kids that weight does not define who they are.

It is important to be healthy, but not to look good. Eating well, getting regular exercise, and making sure we are mentally well helps us prevent certain diseases and conditions. Kids are very impressionable and allowing them to use a weight loss app could teach them that their own self-worth is dictated by how much they weigh and other aspects of their physical appearance. As a result, they could potentially struggle with self-esteem issues, eating disorders, and other mental illnesses. 

Bottom line: a weight loss app targeting kids is a terrible idea. Kids and teenagers are still developing and figuring out who they are as well as what their place is in this world. We are sending all the wrong messages to our youth with this app, as if they aren’t being sent the wrong messages everywhere else in society these days.

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