Encouraging Kids to Embrace Healthy Eating Habits

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Healthy choices start with a conversation and parents’ words have an impact on their child’s eating habits.

This morning at 6:45, weight loss expert Michelle Hastie Thompson has tips for how parents can encourage a body-positive diet — that focuses on health, not numbers.

Weight Watchers just launched a healthy-eating program called “Kurbo” for users between ages 8 to 17 — but critics say the diet app could lead to lifelong problems with food.

Here’s how Kurbo works. They call it the traffic light system. Kids can eat whatever they want, but categorize the veggies and fruits as green, meat and pasta as yellow, and candy and soda as red. Kurbo says it’s proven to be a safe way for effective weight loss.

“We know that dieting for children is not healthy,” said Heather Gallivan, clinical director at Melrose Center. “I think it is challenging on how to approach that with children and adolescents. You have to be really careful about how you talk about these things and the messages you’re sending.”

Showing “success stories” on Kurbo’s website is one of those mixed messages Gallivan is talking about. There are before and after pictures of kids and how much weight they’ve lost on the program.

Kurbo responded to criticism, saying, “Kurbo by Weight Watchers focuses on behavior change for healthier eating and more activity, not dieting or calorie counting.”

The Issues: 

  • Most adults that have lifelong issues with weight can often pinpoint the first weight loss or “healthy eating” program they were put on as a kid — and most would say it made everything worse.
  • Adjusting calories, points, carbs, or exercise is not the solution to long-term weight loss.
  • The side effects of putting kids in a program like this include body obsessions, food addictions, binge eating, slower metabolism and eating disorders
  • Having kids focus on their body and weight creates an unhealthy relationship with their body.


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