Weight Watchers under fire for children's weight loss app that critics say promotes eating disorders
(Fox News) - Weight Watchers came under fire this month after releasing a weight loss app for children and young teens that critics says encourages eating disorders.
WW, formerly known as Weight Watchers, released the Kurbo App on August 13 and described the program as “a scientifically-proven behavior change program designed to help kids and teens ages 8-17 reach a healthier weight,” according to a press release.
The wellness organization said that it built the app based on Stanford University's Pediatric Weight Control Program that helps youngsters to “make lifestyle changes while receiving guidance around sustainable healthy eating, physical activity and mindfulness habits.”
However, parents are firing back saying that the app encourages young people to develop eating disorders early on.
A petition to pull the app was created on Change.org and has received more than 82,000 signatures.
“At least 30 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder in the U.S.,” the petition read. “Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, every 62 minutes at least one person dies as a direct result from an eating disorder. This app will literally kill people.”
The petition argued that the app promotes an environment that facilities the development of eating disorders citing “adolescence [as] a critical period of development and a window of vulnerability.”
The petition's organizers call WW’s decision to launch the app “dangerous, irresponsible and immoral.”
WW did not immediately respond to Fox News' request for comment.
In a press release about the app, Gary Foster, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer at WW, said the app helps target “the prevalent public health problem of childhood obesity.”
“Alongside a distinguished group of leaders in pediatric health and nutrition, we've carefully developed this platform to be holistic, rewarding and inspirational so kids, teens and families get the tools and guidance they need to manage their environment and build and sustain healthy habits,” he said.
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