Weight Watchers, which rebranded as WW earlier this year, recently acquired an app geared toward kids and teens, and it's now available.
The Kurbo by WW app is a free weight loss and nutrition app that was met with criticism when it was initially announced, Time reported. It is geared toward kids and teens ages 8 to 17.
HuffPost reported that a number of parents and people concerned about eating disorders in children were especially vocal.
"There's no way that these kids don't realize that the app is supposed to help them lose weight," Ginny Jones, who founded More-Love.org, an online resource for eating disorders in children, told HuffPost. "No matter how hard it tries to market itself as a wellness company, WW is about weight loss. Kids are way smarter than we think they are, and every 'big kid' who (has been) put on a weight loss program knew exactly what their parents were trying to do."
But Gary Foster, WW's chief science officer, pushes back on claims that the app is for weight loss, despite being part of a weight loss and wellness company.
"This isn't a weight loss app," Foster told HuffPost. "This is an app that teaches in a game-ified, fun, engaging way what are the basics of a healthy eating pattern."
"I think there could be some misperception that somehow we’re saying, 'All kids should lose weight. You're not OK as you are,'" he said. "What we’re saying to kids who are trying to achieve a healthier weight — kids and families — is that this is a reasonable, sensible way to do it."
Although Foster said the app is not necessarily for weight loss, a visit to the Kurbo website shows "success stories" from a 10-year-old boy who lost 42 pounds and a 15-year-old girl who lost 40 pounds.
Still, the app aims to teach children and teens how to choose foods. Using the traffic light system, foods are coded green, yellow and red to guide teens and kids on portion sizes and how to moderate food choices. Desserts and soda are red foods; lean protein, dairy and whole grains are yellow foods; and fruits and veggies are green foods.
Teens also have the option to work with a coach in a paid version of the app.
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