New Weight Watchers diet app is aimed at kids as young as 8 years old


Dieting app for children concerns parents, health professionals

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/CNN) - A new app from Weight Watchers is aimed at kids as young as 8 years old, and critics say it could lead to lifelong problems with food.

The app, called Kurbo, is part of a weight loss program for kids ages 8 to 17.

It works by using something called a "traffic light system" to classify food. Veggies and fruits are green; meat and pasta is yellow; and candy and soda is red.

The people behind Kurbo say it's a safe way for effective weight loss, but one medical professional has a different opinion.

“I think it is challenging on how to approach that with children and adolescents. You have to be very careful about how you talk about these things and the messages you’re sending,” said Heather Gallivan, the clinical director at Melrose Center, an eating disorder treatment facility in Minneapolis.

Gallivan said dieting for children is not healthy.

She said the success stories on Kurbo’s website send a mixed message for kids. The website shows before and after pictures of children who lost weight on the program.

Some of the children on that page are 8 years old.

Isabel Omolo is a mother who sees the benefit to the app, but she said she wouldn't let her kids use it.

"It feels so serious for a child to be thinking about that kind of complexity of how you eat, how you exercise, but at the same time it's necessary," Omolo said.

Kurbo responded to criticism saying, "Kurbo by Weight Watchers focuses on behavior change for healthier eating and more activity, not dieting or calorie counting."

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