Kurbo health coaching

App review by
Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Media
Kurbo health coaching App Poster Image
Controversial dieting program best used with caution.

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 18+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

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.

Violence
Sex
Language
Consumerism

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.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Kurbo health coaching is an app that helps kids track food choices, exercise minutes, and personal weight-related goals. The app is part of the Kurbo by WW (Weight Watchers) program that includes a website and paid personal coaches. Food tracking is based on the Traffic Light Diet System developed at Stanford University. It categorizes food into green, yellow, and red choices to help kids learn to choose healthy options more often, without totally restricting any foods. There's also an exercise log, a goal-setting and weight-tracking tool, health-education games, and videos explaining each concept. The app is free, but there's a push to purchase personalized live coaching. Kids 13 year of age and older can register themselves with an email address, user name, and password; Parents must register on behalf of kids younger than 13. Though Kurbo Health Coaching presents itself as a health-conscious app, there are many experts in nutrition, eating disorders, and pediatrics who have expressed concerns about the safety of using an app like this with kids. Based on expert advice, it's best if this app is used only with parent supervision. Device location may be used for some services. Kurbo's terms of use indicate that it has the right to report problematic or risky health behaviors observed through the information users enter, but the developer has no obligation to monitor for such information. Read the developer's privacy policy for details on how your (or your kids') information is collected, used, and shared and any choices you may have in the matter, and note that privacy policies and terms of service frequently change.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byEdwarrior August 14, 2019

Eating Disorder behavior in the making!

This app has no place on the market at all! Children should not be focused on restricting food. This can trigger serious eating disorders, which can be deadly.... Continue reading
Parent Written byThomas C. December 15, 2016

Great Concept really poorly executed

Basically this is 250 dollars for a few months access to 2 things: 1.) an application to track your food consumption (nothing special) and 2.) access once weekl... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byConcernedTeenager August 17, 2019

Dangerous

Hi! My sister had a major eating disorder and it took her life. This app is offering a gateway to developing an eating disorder to kids as young as 8 (although... Continue reading

What's it about?

Once registered with KURBO HEALTH COACHING, kids enter their birthday and current height and weight, choose an avatar, and begin to enter their goals. Animated videos introduce the traffic light system and "success stories," and audio tracks offer relaxation techniques. Then kids begin to track the foods they eat by typing in the food and viewing whether it's categorized as green, yellow, or red (some have more than one color). Kids can see their progress as well as how many "red" foods they have left for the week. Kids also can play games, read tips and reminders, try new challenges, and set new goals each week.

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Kurbo Health Coaching's focus on dieting and weight loss. If you are looking to help your kids make healthier lifestyle choices, make it clear that their health and happiness is the main goal. Aim to educate your family about how to make healthier choices for a lifetime instead of the weight trackers and focus on numbers.

  • Help kids succeed in their goals. Which foods in the green and yellow categories are favorites? Be sure to have a ready supply of those in your home. Which red foods make it difficult for your kid or teen to say no? Try to keep these foods out of the home most of the time.

  • Be supportive in fun ways, such as going for a bike ride or playing Wii Fit together. What other activities can you all do together that get you moving and having fun?

  • Find some healthy cookbooks that show how to make traditionally unhealthy foods healthier with a few ingredient changes and new baking or cooking methods. What are your favorite foods? What are some ways to make them even healthier?

  • Discuss the big business behind dieting and the health industry. Help your kids understand that making healthy choices is not dependent on buying a program, special foods, a book, an app, or anything else. 

App details

  • Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android
  • Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: applying information, decision-making, part-whole relationships, thinking critically
    Self-Direction: achieving goals, goal-setting, self-assessment, set objectives
    Emotional Development: persevering, self-awareness
    Health & Fitness: balanced diet, exercise, fitness
  • Price: Free
  • Pricing structure: Free (Live coaching available within the app for $69/month, $189 for 3 months, or $294 for 6 months)
  • Release date: August 22, 2019
  • Category: Health & Fitness
  • Size: 222.20 MB
  • Publisher: Kurbo Health
  • Version: 3.0.2
  • Minimum software requirements: iOS 10.0 or later; Android varies with device
  • Last updated: August 27, 2019

For kids who love health and fitness

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