Weight loss app for children – Kurbo, has sparked concern among La Crosse dieticians. No one can deny that social media and technology have infiltrated the lives of the new generation.
So, in an age, where there’s an app for everything, its predictable that the diet and fitness industry will not fall behind. But, the launch of weight loss app Kurbo from WW, previously called weight watchers, has led to many concerns and controversies.
Why children shouldn’t use this app?
Kurbo targets children aged 8 – 17. And tracks their food consumption and activity, along with the provision of virtual coaching service. Some parents and pediatricians fear the emphasis on weight at an early age. While others are promoting this effort to target childhood obesity in an engaging and modern way.
Rebecca Stetzer, RD at Gundersen Health System in La Crosse, is openly against this app. She has recommended parents to stay away from it. Moreover, her top concern is that this app focuses on weight loss efforts that are notably ineffective in the long run.
According to Stetzer, this weight loss app is positioning kids in a place where their actions will not be effective for them in the long run. WW has officially relaunched Kurbo in August, after acquiring it in 2018. Before launching, it has made tween and teen-friendly adjustments, like an interface similar to Snapchat.
The updated app also contains a simplistic “traffic light” system, that categorizes foods as healthy, consume sparingly, or use in moderation. Kurbo is based on Dr. Len Epstein’s Traffic Light Program. In the first phase, children record everything they drink and eat and set goals to limit the unhealthy food they eat.
Whereas, the second phase focuses on the incorporation of physical activity in daily life. And the third phase is about reinforcing and maintaining the healthy skills that are learned with the group and individual sessions.
However, Stetzer says that there are some flaws in the traffic light system. And the evidence to support the use of such a system for children is also minimal. Moreover, the youth may take the categorization of food as good and bad literally and follow it to the extreme.
La Crosse dieticians’ point of view
While there are many aspects of eating disorders, Stetzer observes that most people with such disorders have previously tried dieting. Kurbo’s classification of foods as green, yellow, and red is also confusing.
A Kurbo’s recipe for muffins and apple, under the heading “Healthy Autumn Treats”, containing fruit, whole grains, and no sugars or fats, is also listed as a red item. Stetzer says that this app has the potential to create problem-related to disordered eating.
Jamie Pronschinske is RD at Mayo Clinic Health System in La Crosse. She has also called this app an approach she will not use. She said that in the case of a patient who is already vulnerable to an eating disorder, this app can lead to an obsession with monitoring and tracking food intake.
Dr. Maria Hurtado, who specializes in weight management at Mayo Clinic Health System, says that weight monitoring and calorie counting are vital for losing and maintaining weight loss. But every parent needs to be careful when it comes to weight loss apps. She has advised them to consult a pediatrician to discuss any risks or concerns.
In short, none of the local dieticians interviewed were supporting the use of this app. Stetzer has suggested parents steer clear and not use weight as a focus if they are thinking to use Kurbo or other weight loss programs.