Weight Watchers Targets Kids
While digging through boxes in my attic recently, I found a small green booklet called “School Memories.” It features black and white pictures of every single class in my small-town elementary school.
Flipping through the book that went from K-8th grades, something struck me:
There were no fat kids.
Oh, there were a couple of students in the 6th and 8th grade classes who were probably considered overweight at the time. But stand them next to today’s crop of super-sized kids and they’d look undernourished.
I’d like to say our diet was better when I was a child than it is today. But I’d be lying. Most of our vegetables came from a can - at our house, at least - a “salad” was a lump of iceberg lettuce swimming in Kraft french dressing and we ate potatoes and dessert every night.
We barely consumed enough nutrition to grow hair.
Why weren’t we fat? A couple of reasons. Number one, I believe, is that we were active. Really active. We rode bikes, we played outside, we walked to school and we wore ourselves out on the playground. I don’t ever remember watching TV during the day unless I was home sick from school.
Most families had just one car, so if you wanted to go anywhere, you had to walk or pedal. Your parent was not your chauffeur.
Oh, and we didn’t snack. Mostly because our cupboards were bereft of junk food.
Which brings us to the latest fat-related controversy: Weight Watcher’s new app for kids.
Hold on, Weight Watchers is using only its initials to show how hip it is to go to meetings, swap recipes and have weigh-ins: WW.
So WW just launched the Kurbo app for overweight kids ages 8-17.
Seriously, WW? You do realize that one of the reasons children are fat is because they’re sedentary, don’t you? They waste too much time on their devices. So you’re marketing an app to get them thin?
Just what the kids need.
Nutritionists across the country are outraged by Kurbo, pointing out that encouraging kids as young as 8 to obsess over their weight and record every morsel they put in their mouths is an excellent way to trigger eating disorders. Those can be devastating, by the way.
"Eating disorders are too often wrongly relegated to the sidelines as a minor consideration in the 'obesity prevention' conversation," the National Eating Disorders Association wrote in a press release. "Eating disorders are serious illnesses that have the second highest mortality rate of any mental health disorder. They affect people across the body size spectrum, including those who may be considered 'overweight' or ‘obese.’”
Kurbo - which can cost as much at $17.25 a week - not only makes kids aware of foods they should limit, it displays before and after pictures of chubby children and has a section showing kids as young as 8 boasting about the weight or BMI reduction they’ve accomplished, thanks to the app.
Along with a disclaimer that the results are “not typical.” Of course they’re not.
Look, the best person to be watching a kid’s weight is a parent who encourages a child to get moving and stop staring at stupid apps that only make them feel bad about themselves.