😱 New Weight Watchers' App For Kids 😱
Yes, you heard correctly. An app for kids between 8-17 years old to encourage weight loss through labelling food as good or bad and by counting calories.
Please sign the petition below to remove this app if you feel the same as me and 85,000 others! Here are my thoughts why I think this is the craziest idea for weight loss in kids - what do you think too?
😇 ‘GOOD’ AND ‘BAD’ FOOD 😡
The app rates food on a traffic light system; red food (such as sugary drinks) which needs to be reduced, yellow (dairy and protein) where kids need to be mindful of portion size, and green for a healthier option (fruit and veg). I have never mentioned to my kids whether the food they eat is good or bad and I do this as if you tell your child that the sweets they are eating are ‘bad’, they may subconsciously start harbouring feelings of guilt when they eat them, especially if this ‘bad’ food tastes really good! They could crave the food even more if they know it is forbidden, restricted or viewed as naughty. Rather than create a big drama out of this type of food, it is more my job as a parent to limit these ‘bad’ foods and just not make them so regular.
Demonise ‘bad’ food and you create an obsession with it. Create an obsession and you could end up in all sorts of issues in later life on how to control consumption.
‘Is chocolate bad for you, mummy?’ my daughter asked the other day. ‘No’ I said. ‘There are no good or bad foods, it’s all part of a balanced diet’ and I really believe this. Eating just carrots all day would equally be ‘bad’ for us! 🤓
⏳CALORIE COUNTING ⏳
Calorie counting and restricting food in adults has been shown to create eating disorders and a lifelong obsession with weight, so why on earth would you ask a child to do this especially when their needs are very different and they need more calories for physical and hormonal growth and development? The information on this app also doesn’t appear correct as food such as cheese, chicken and salmon are in the ‘yellow’ zone which seems bonkers! Adolescent girls gain on average 40-50 lbs during puberty and boys 50-60 lbs, so to suggest that a child may be overweight and needs to reduce food intake in this period of their lives is very dangerous indeed.
I have to believe that Weight Watchers has good intentions, but this is not the way to go. My approach would be this:
- NOT DISCUSSING WEIGHT -
I have never mentioned my own weight in front of my kids. When my kids ask why I go to the gym, I talk about wanting to be fit and strong, but not about wanting to lose a few extra pounds now and then! I believe it’s detrimental to my kids growing up thinking it’s all about how you look and want to teach them that bodies come in all different shapes and sizes. That being ‘healthy’ is more than just your weight.
- NOT RESTRICTING FOOD -
Counting calories or points is redundant for kids as they have an in-built ability to know when they are full or hungry. There is no need to tell your child to eat ‘two more bites’ (or two fewer bites) as kids are intuitive eaters and if they are having a balanced diet, then there is little cause for concern on overeating. My kids don’t eat so they can make me happy (the app suggests this is a reason to lose weight?!), they eat to serve their own hunger cues. This information needs to be made more available than it currently is, it is the basis of all mealtimes.
- A BETTER APP OUT THERE? -
Does anyone know if there an app that gives parents info on 1) how to cook simple, healthy meals, 2) basic information on how to create balance in our lives and 3) alternatives to creating happier mealtimes without the need to count calories and demonise food? The closest I can think of is Change4Life.
I want to accredit Feeding Bytes - Real Nutrition for Busy Families and Feeding Littles for bringing this topic to my attention and of course to the lady who created the petition in the first place, Rachel Egan!