Download to Reduce Childhood Obesity? A Conversation About WW New App

Regular listeners of the Southern Fried Girlfriends podcast were expecting Part 2 of our show about Fad Diets. But something happened over the last several days that I felt so passionately about that I couldn’t wait to bring this show to you. Please forgive me, but I promise we will give you that show NEXT.

Last week, WW unveiled a new app that they have developed for children ages 8-17 years old. The response from the nutrition, eating disorders, and much of the pediatric community has been swift and strong. I knew that I couldn’t address this issue in a brief soundbite and I didn’t want to do it in short stories. Instead, I decided that we would do an urgent show on the podcast.

Here’s the thing: there are real concerns for kids who are overweight and obese. According to the CDC, one in five children are obese. There can be some negative impacts of carrying too much weight in childhood. Specifically, CDC cites a potential rise in risk for a variety of conditions such as high blood pressure and cholesterol (precursors for cardiovascular disease), impaired blood sugar control (increasing risk for diabetes), breathing problems (e.g. asthma), fatty liver disease, and more. Overweight kids are at higher risk for bullying and can suffer mental illness like depression disproportionately. We shouldn’t ignore the potential risks associated with overweight and obesity at any age.

BUT…overweight and obesity are multifactorial. There’s not one thing that “causes” obesity. And not everyone who is overweight or obese is unhealthy. AND children have very different needs than adults, both physically and emotionally. Children are growing and changing. They need adequate calories to be able to do that well. They are developing their self-esteem and self-worth in ways that are different from adults. A parent telling them that they are not “good” the way they are can have huge implications. They are dependent on adults to be nourished emotionally and physically!

For children, and I would say for everyone, healthy habits have to be something that everyone in the family adopts for success. The child shouldn’t have to do something completely different from the rest of the family. If good nutrition is important, it’s important or EVERYONE. If a child is lovable no matter what (and they ARE), then weight status should not be a measure of success.

WW says they developed their new app based on a program at Stanford University. According to the Stanford website, they have a program that is based on group support for the whole family – parents and children attended 25 sessions to learn about healthy habits. An app is not a family intervention.

In order to help me unpack this issue, I invited my colleague Lauren Harris-Pincus, registered dietitian, to join Dee and I to talk through it. Here’s a bit about Lauren:

Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN, is a nutrition communications specialist, speaker, spokesperson, corporate consultant and Registered Dietitian in private practice. She is the founder and owner of Nutrition Starring YOU, LLC where she specializes in weight management and prediabetes.

Lauren is the author of the cookbook, “The Protein-Packed Breakfast Club: Easy High Protein Recipes with 300 Calories or Less to Help You Lose Weight and Boost Metabolism”. Formerly an obese child, Lauren dedicates herself to combating the growing adult and childhood obesity epidemic. She loves to play around in the kitchen creating waistline-friendly dishes and developing recipes for corporate clients. She holds both Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in nutrition from Penn State and New York University. 

Lauren is regularly quoted in major publications including The Huffington Post, Fox News, The New York Post, NBC News Better, Shape, SELF, Fitness, Prevention, Women’s Health, Good Housekeeping, U.S. News and World Report, Everyday Health, Reader’s Digest and more.  She is also a contributor to Today’s Dietitian Magazine and Food and Nutrition Magazine and is a frequent guest on radio shows and podcasts.

Follow her on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or YouTube @LaurenPincusRD or on Facebook at Nutrition Starring YOU at and check out her book, The Protein-Packed Breakfast Club available on Amazon.

Listen to Download to Reduce Childhood Obesity? here or subscribe via iTunes,StitcherGoogle Play, and more by searching for Southern Fried Girlfriends Podcast on your favorite podcast app. Swing on over to The Southern Fried Girlfriends Facebook page to chat about this topic, get some other resources, and stay connected!

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