Is the Weight Watchers App Truly Assisting with Children’s Health?

Ella Mago, Shark Story Editor

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A newly developed app by Weight Watchers called, Kurbo, is being directed and advertised towards children as an app that has the ability to track and determine the amount a user is eating, in order to have the children “reach a healthier weight.”

Numerous adverse reviews and comments flooded the app within weeks of its launch throughout app stores, with many people expressing their concern towards the app for promoting both health and mental problems that the app implements in the young target audience. Among these reviews against the app, various dietitians are speaking out of the harm the app may cause, including Anna Sweeney, a dietitian in Concord, who tweeted that “The majority of eating disorder clients that I work with have had a history of dieting. For most, it started with Weight Watchers.” The users of the app are exposed to developing health risks, according to parenting.nytimes.com, “Jennifer Harriger, Ph.D., an associate professor of psychology at Pepperdine University who studies the development of weight stigma and disordered eating in children and adolescents, said that there’s… evidence of dieting at any age, but… in early childhood… [it may]… increase the risk of anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating later on.” From a dietitian’s perspective, using the app will, unfortunately, increase the number of clients that are experiencing eating disorders.

Not only are dietitians speaking out about the harmful results the app will result in, but concerned parents are also raising concerns of how the app may assist in damaging their children’s health. In addition to the physical concerns that are being raised, the parents of children who are using the Kurbo app are also concerned with their children’s mental health. They are concerned with how the app may cause their children to struggle with body image issues. The parents believe that the body image problem arises because the app expresses how efficient it is by showing the users–children, other kids–who have used the app. The pictures depicted in the app are before and after comparisons of children who have lost weight due to the utility of the app. There has been an alarming number of customers that have started a petition to remove the app from app stores throughout various devices.

The Kurbo app by Weight Watchers negatively impacts its users both physically as well as mentally by its fostering of health risks such as bulimia and having mental stigmas surrounding body and image issues.

The initial idea for the Kurbo app is understandable, aiming to assist children with maintaining a healthy weight, however, should it really include before and after pictures of children who have lost weight due to the app? From the experts’ knowledge and critique alone, the app should be taken down for placing emphasis on dieting as well as creating both physical and mental health risks for children.

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