Nutritionists and parents weigh in on new weight loss app for kids

Weight Watchers have a new health app on the market. It targets kids and teens between the ages of 8 and 17. It’s aimed to help that specific age group look for a healthier weight.

The app uses what’s called a traffic light system to classify food; veggies and fruits are green, meat and pasta are yellow and candy and soda are red.

“Green foods are foods that the USDA dietary guidelines says children and families should eat more of, yellow foods in moderation and red foods should be eaten fewer times per day,” Chief Scientific Officer at Weight Watchers, Dr. Gary Foster said.

The app is raising concerns for some parents and nutritionists saying 8 is way too young to be dieting and could cause some future body image issues.

“I feel like the way this app was built is so similar to Weight Watchers and just completely geared towards weight loss, weight loss, weight loss,” Nutritionist, Keri Glassman said.

A local mother and grandmother says she would allow her kids to use this app because it promotes more so health eating and less dieting. As for body image problems, she says we as a society need to change that.

“Body image has always been an issue and when they get older everybody wants to be skinny,” Lisa Parks said. “Until we change that attitude and just teach them to be healthy instead of skinny or over weight, I think that will make a big difference.”

Representatives with Weight Watchers say the goal of the app is not weight loss.

“It’s improving your overall health profile by changing behaviors around nutrition, activity and mindset,” Foster said.

The app also shows kid’s success stories, showing before and after pictures of the amount of weight they have lost. This is also raising concern.

“You are not meant to be deprived of food to try to be skinny, you are meant to nourish yourself to be happier and healthier and feel good and food is positive,” Glassman said.

Channel 8 Eyewitness News spoke with a local nutritionist who says the traffic light system is used in a lot of obesity programs and has been proven to be effective.

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