Kurbo Review: A Weight Loss App for Kids & Teens
September 11, 2019 16 Comments
This Kurbo review is going to discuss why a Weight Watchers app for a kid may not be a great idea.
WW wants that kid up there to put the ice cream DOWN :)
I have been writing about WW (formerly Weight Watchers) for years - for example: Not Losing Weight on Weight Watchers Freestyle.
One result that is clear to me is that there is much we don’t know about how to lose weight. The research is even thinner when we look at dieting in children but this didn’t stop WW from developing Kurbo.
I am sure that you all know this but just in case you forgot - children should be gaining weight because they are growing. This fact makes it far more difficult to understand and change the trajectory when a child becomes obese.
Usually the child’s doctor will bring up a child’s weight gain (if that weight gain is outside the realm of normal) and discuss the factors that my contribute. The doctor may refer the family to a registered dietitian nutritionist for further guidance.
WW wants you to take matters into your own hands with their App as they have decided that a 85% Body Mass Index means indicates that you need it. You can pay $69 per month for a coach.
They refer parents to the CDC.gov website to calculate the child’s BMI in case you don’t know it. The CDC states that a BMI of 95% (not 85%) is considered potentially obese in children.
From the Centers for Disease Control (CDC.GOV) site:
For children and teens, Body Mass Index is not a diagnostic tool and is used to screen for potential weight and health-related issues.
In other words, just because you have a high BMI it does not mean that you need to lose weight. You can’t self diagnose or diagnose your child with a weight problem based on BMI. A trained professional needs to evaluate your child further to determine if your child has a weight problem.
Even though I don’t agree with the premise of Kurbo, I decided to review it to see if it had some helpful aspects. I logged in and started to track my food for the day to see how it works.
The stoplight analogy is what they use to help the child understand what he/she should be eating. Green is go for it, yellow is moderate, and red should be limited.
Peanut butter??? How is it possible that peanut butter is a red just like ice cream or a candy bar? Peanut butter is extremely nutritious. I get that you don’t want to eat a whole jar but I wouldn’t want my kid worried about how much peanut butter she eats.
Cheese??? Cheese has a high percentage calcium for growing bones. I see that Cheese Sticks are yellow but how is that different from cheese? So many questions!!!
Kurbo has advice if you want to feed your kids cheese in their lunch box. From Kurbo:
Instead of grilled cheese on white bread pack a light quesadilla: take a small whole wheat or corn tortilla and sprinkle it with shredded light cheese. Melt it in the microwave and add a small cup of fresh tomato salsa on the side!
Light cheese for children? Why not just make a smaller grilled cheese on whole wheat bread with shredded regular cheese? Why aren’t we talking about portion sizes of high calorie healthy food?
Is Kurbo a low-fat diet and has that been tested to help children lose weight and at the same time develop normally? I looked for a research paper on this app and couldn’t find one.
But, my concerns about the science behind the app are not the most serious. A group of health professionals that work with eating disorders started a petition and a website - Wake Up Weight Watchers:
According to doctors, adolescence is a critical period of development and a window of vulnerability during which eating disorders can develop. Pediatric eating disorders are more common than type 2 diabetes. In 2016, the American Academy of Pediatrics advised doctors and families to steer clear of weight talk, and instead focus on emphasizing healthy lifestyles.
WW the decision to launch this app is dangerous, irresponsible and immoral. It is time for you to put human lives over profit. You must pull this app and save thousands of children from developing and supporting life altering eating disorders that will eventually kill some of them.
WW says that there is research that shows that kids who use the app do not develop eating disorders but it isn’t hard to imagine how a child might start to limit food intake as a response to the app.
I have been writing Snack Girl for 10 years now as a resource for families to help them eat healthier. Let’s focus on healthy eating and positive lifestyle changes with our children and stay away from demonizing food.
What do you think of Kurbo? Would you use it with your child or teen? Please share.
Other posts you might like:
Not Losing Weight on Weight Watchers Freestyle
Are you not losing weight on Weight Watchers Freestyle? I hear you!...
Mindy J Duncan