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New children's weight-loss app draws Twitter backlash

 Kurbo Founder and CEO Joanna Strober speaks onstage during The New York Times Health For Tomorrow Conference at Mission Bay Conference Center at UCSF on May 29, 2014 in San Francisco, California.
Kurbo founder and CEO Joanna Strober onstage during the New York Times Health For Tomorrow Conference on May 29, 2014 in San Francisco, California. WW bought the app in 2018. Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for New York Times

Newly released weight-loss app Kurbo by WW is drawing strong criticism for its focus on youth weight, rather than overall health.

Why it matters: Body activists and members of the medical community responded to the announcement on Twitter, claiming the app could cause children to develop obsessive or unhealthy relationships with food and eating disorders. Now, a petition is calling for the free app to be taken down, describing Kurbo as "dangerous, irresponsible and immoral."

What they're saying: WW, formerly known as Weight Watchers, is standing by the app, saying the company has "decades of expertise in scaling science-backed behavior change programs, uniquely positioning us to be part of the solution of childhood obesity."

Details:

  • WW acquired the app in February 2018 and spent a year developing it, reports Time magazine.
  • Kurbo was released Aug. 13. The petition followed 1 day later.
  • The tech is designed to provide a "traffic light system" to alert kids as young as 8 years old to the nutritiousness of food items.