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Popular eating program for kids sparks controversy

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

childhood obesity prevention

Story at-a-glance -

  • Although market researchers anticipate strong growth in the weight loss industry, WW, the company formerly known as Weight Watchers, has posted a loss after rebranding in 2018. One move to regain ground was to release an app aimed at children as young as 8 to address childhood obesity
  • Although publicly aimed at helping children develop good habits with an app, the company's stated goal for the new app was to impact 10 million lives with 5 million in the program and another 5 million using other company content by 2020. The announcement angered parents and nutritionists who believe this may give rise to unhealthy eating habits and eating disorders
  • The app release came one year after the company offered free summer participation for children ages 13 to 17. The original app was designed to help young people develop healthy eating patterns, while the overhaul from WW gives parents greater involvement. It has a paid subscription and allows children to input body measurements to track weight loss
  • Calorie counting is not the answer to weight loss

According to the most recent data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 39.8% of all U.S. adults are obese. The same data show the obesity prevalence in children ages 2 to 19 years is 18.5%, and is expected to rise to 20.6% in adolescents from 12 to 19 years.

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, an individual who weighs more than what's considered normal for their height is described as overweight or obese. According to the CDC, the percentage of youth who are overweight or obese has more than tripled since the 1970s.


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