A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this app.
Kids can learn about the traffic light system for classifying foods. They'll also work on setting personal goals and tracking their progress towards their goals. Unfortunately, kids may also learn some unhealthy obsessions with food and exercise tracking and may learn to confuse healthy lifestyle choices with less healthy dieting habits.
Ease of Play
The app is easy to navigate. Though there are tutorial videos, the red, yellow, green light system isn't fully explained. Reminders such as "Don't forget to track your drinks!" and "Try a fruit popsicle instead!" help keep kids on target.
Products & Purchases
Although the app itself is free, the full Kurbo program with "human coaching" is $69/month. Kurbo is also co-branded with WW (Weight Watchers), a large national company that sells diet plans. A link in the resources section takes kids to the FitBit website.
Parents Need to Know
Is It Any Good?
Though this app presents itself as a tool to help establish healthy lifestyle habits, its focus on weight loss and dieting take it in a potentially dangerous direction. Kurbo health coaching's recent partnership with WW (formerly known as Weight Watchers, one of the largest diet corporations), its "success" story videos showing kids who have lost weight, and its weight tracker make it clear that the focus is on dieting and weight loss. Although weight loss may be a crucial part of making healthier lifestyle choices, many experts strongly advise against dieting, especially for kids. The pay model also sets kids up early to be consumers in the large diet and "health" consumer industry. It might do better if it focused on education around what foods are "green," "yellow," or "red," and why, not only because understanding nutrition is important, but also because those labels can be confusing (for instance cheese is red, but cheese sticks are yellow). In addition, it could help families make better food choices together rather than putting the onus on the kid to choose or reject certain foods while everyone else in the family may be making different choices. Without an extra education piece, the traffic light may also prove too simplistic for kids. That is, some red foods can actually be nutritious despite having high levels of fat, like avocados. If you choose to use it, the best way may be as a guide to help the entire family make better eating choices. Parents can be in charge of the app, ignore the weight tracking, and use the food classification system as a jumping off point for more conversations about health and balance.
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