Weight Watchers App Faces Backlash For Targeting Kids And Teens

August 19, 2019

A new Weight Watchers app targeting kids and teens is drawing backlash for attempting to control kids’ diets. 

The app, which was designed to assist 8 to 17 year olds reach a healthy weight, uses information from Kurbo and Stanford University’s Pediatric Weight Control Program. 

"To change the health trajectory of the world, we have a tremendous opportunity, but also a responsibility, to help kids, teens and families," said Mindy Grossman, president and CEO at Weight Watchers, in a statement. "With Kurbo's proven platform, we can be a trusted and powerful partner for families, as part of our mission to inspire healthy habits for real life, for everyone."

Dietitians and nutritionists, though, have criticized the company for attempting to control children’s weights at a crucial time for growth and development. 

“Trying to shrink children’s (or anyone’s) bodies can put their health at risk,” said nutritionist Christy Harrison in a New York Times editorial. “That’s because intentional weight loss is likely to result in weight cycling — the repeated cycles of weight loss and regain commonly known as yo-yo dieting — and weight cycling carries its own risks, independent of body mass index.”

Weight Watchers isn’t branding the program as a diet app, instead calling it “an easy-to-use, free mobile app with fun and engaging content to inspire healthy behaviors.” 

Nonetheless, Harrison wrote attempts to lose weight “are especially troubling when imposed on children who aren’t in a position to make their own choices.” 

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