Fat Shaming and Pediatricians.

Using fat shaming remarks to measure a person sends the absolute wrong messages to our young girls and boys. Words matter. They can scar you if not used carefully.

As the founder of a weight loss company for children and teenagers, Kurbo Health, I am afraid that these types of demeaning comments are not limited to Presidential candidates.  Overweight children get these comments every day — from their peers, teachers and even their doctors.

Yesterday we received this email from the mother of a 16 year old boy: “My son has struggled with his weight for years. He’s had medical professionals jiggle his oversized breast tissue and make snide comments. I want my son to feel better but I don’t approach it anymore as he’s had too many disappointments”.

Another email:  “My son cries each time we go to the doctor.  She tells him that he is obese, and that he will lose his fingers and toes to diabetes if he does not do anything.  But these comments just stress him out and make him eat more.”

Last week we met with a pediatrician who said that he has so many overweight kids in his office that he has taken to having them lie on the table and grabbing a handful of their fat to show them and their parents that they need to lose weight.  Somehow he believes this is motivating.

The American Pediatric Association itself has taken a hands-off stance, warning that any talk of dieting or weight issues will lead to food disorders. This has only reinforced parental denial,  leading many parents to believe that their children will just outgrow their weight issues, which has proven untrue.  Overweight five-year-olds have a tenfold increased risk of becoming obese adults compared to relatively thin five-year-olds. And 80% of overweight adolescents grow up to be obese adults.

As a society we have a strange relationship with overweight children.  We want them to lose weight.  We know that being overweight as a child leads to health issues and discrimination.  And yet because we don’t have an agreed upon language or a helpful approach to talk about weight, we constantly fail in communicating this effectively to our children, potentially damaging both their self esteem and their future.

There is a healthy way to approach this issue.  Discuss health.  Don’t judge or criticize children for their weight.  Instead, get to the root of the problem with a personalized approach – what foods is the child eating that makes them overweight?  Are their parents talking to them in a way that makes them hoard food and overeat outside the house, or are they empowering their children to make their own food choices?  Are there unhealthy foods in the house that can be removed because willpower is highly over-rated?  Is the child stressed or depressed and is this leading to poor eating patterns?  If so, come up with better coping mechanisms. If the family cannot afford healthier foods, work with them to find foods they can afford that contain more nutrients and don’t cause weight gain.

Fat shaming doesn’t work from parents or pediatricians. We (adults) have to play a huge role in making sure that our children are learning the tools they need to make healthy choices. When people of authority, presidential candidates, parents, doctors, contribute to these harmful practices around weight, it is that much more horrible for the child. It is not okay.

Teen Weight Loss Success Story: Cora gains self-control and self-confidence

Cora decided to join Kurbo to gain confidence and control over her weight. I was gaining a lot of weight in short periods of time. I was doing the same things, but I just kept gaining weight so we went to the doctor and he told us about Kurbo. We’re finishing up our 3 month free period given by the clinic, and now but we’re going to subscribe to another 6 months! Now it is just a part of my everyday life,” Cora shares.  

She worked with Coach Lauren to set goals and learn which foods to eat more of. I like it because it’s not too difficult. They give you a guide and you don’t have to add and subtract a lot of points, it’s just that you have a certain number of red lights for the week. The program helped me see that I had previously been eating foods I thought were healthy but actually weren’t and vice versa. For example, I didn’t know hummus was a red (unless you make it yourself) and guacamole is actually a yellow but I had thought it was a red!” Cora says.  


Boo! 5 Spooky Tricks to Stay Healthy this Halloween

All the red lights are out of the house and in the course of one night, a spooky creature has brought a whole bag of candy into your house! Here are 5 spooky ways to stay healthy this Halloween.

[1] Scare away candy you don’t love

  • Divide your candy into loves, likes and dislikes. Only keep the “love” pile and check out #2 to make your likes and dislikes pile disappear.
  • Keep your “love” pile to spend on your red lights for the next few weeks.
  • Make a deal with your family to keep the candy some place out of the way and treat yourself to your “loves” candy when you have red lights to spend.

[2] Cast a spell on all of your candy

  • Look into ways to donate your candy. Check out your local resources to find the best way to get rid of unwanted candy.
  • Some dentists and doctors offices will give you gifts in return for your candy loot so ask them!
  • Give it to your parents to bring to work so it gets out of the house.

[3] Disguise healthy snacks as Halloween treats

You don’t have to use a red light to get the flavors of Halloween, plus they will leave you feeling more full and satisfied!

[4] Frighten the candy away

Halloween doesn’t have to be only about candy. You can still have fun doing non-food activities.

[5] RUN from the zombies and princesses

Enjoy Halloween while exercising! Ditch your trick-or-treat bag for a pair of running shoes and hit the town for a brisk paced walk or run. It will be a fun way to see all the decorated houses and find the spookiest ones.

If you take one of these spooky tricks, you can be sure to have a healthy Halloween; and that will be the best treat. Happy Halloween!

Pad Thai Makeover

I really love Asian food. Especially all the yummy noodle dishes! But when you eat out at most Asian restaurants, a lot of the choices are stir fried in red-light oils and made with red-light noodles. One of my very favorites is Pad Thai. Let’s see how we can make a healthier version of this popular dish!

First off, all of the ingredients don’t have to match perfectly. This is more of a Pad Thai inspired version, but it tastes great and definitely satisfies a noodle craving! One of my favorite ways to make healthy makeovers of my favorite dishes is by adding more green lights (like veggies) to the original. If you do this, you know that you’re really making that green light count go up and are staying within your red light budget for the week!

Check out this easy Pad Thai makeover:


contains 4 servings

one serving: one scoop of the hand, contains 2 yellow lights, 1 green light
• 6-8 oz flat brown rice noodles
• 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
• 2 chicken breasts, cubed
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• ½ onion or 2 green onions, chopped or thinly sliced
• 1 carrot, cut in thin sticks or shredded
• 2 cups of broccoli
• ¼ cup cilantro leaves, chopped
• Other veggie options:
o 1 red bell pepper, sliced thin
o 1 cup of bean sprouts
• 4 tbsp. soy sauce
• 2 tbsp. rice vinegar
• 1 lime, cut in wedges


Cook noodles in a pot according to directions on the package. In a large skillet, heat olive oil on low/medium heat and brown the garlic. Cook chicken until cooked through and slightly browned. Add in the rest of your veggies, season with salt and pepper to taste, and continue to cook until they reach desired softness. Turn off the heat. Then, add in drained noodles and the soy sauce/vinegar and combine thoroughly. Serve topped with chopped cilantro and with some fresh lime juice squeezed on top.

5 Tips to Help Support Your Teen with a Weight Problem

This article has been adapted from Teen Life Blog: https://www.teenlife.com/blogs/5-tips-help-support-your-teen-weight-problem

One out of three teens today are overweight or obese. This means that most parents reading this article know or have an overweight child of their own and are struggling with solutions on how to help them.

The first thing to you need to do immediately is drop the guilt! As parents, we are hard on ourselves. We blame our child’s weight issues on not being a good enough parent, that we are not creating the perfect environment for our kids, we are working long hours, eating out, buying school lunches and quick, processed snacks, etc. Combine all of that with our own conflicted feelings about our own weight and eating issues, including guilt, anger, fear and helplessness, and we don’t want to unload this on our children.

It’s best to start from a clean slate and approach the topic from the positive position of promoting health for your child—and the whole family. Remember, the topic of weight does not need to be taboo. Here are 5 tips to help you start a healthy dialogue with your teen about the situation.


Child Weight Loss Success Story: Talissa turns eating healthy and exercising into her new lifestyle.

Talissa was ready to make a change, so she decided to sign up for Kurbo. “Her clothes weren’t fitting her properly and she was feeling a little bit down about it and she would feel upset about how she looked,” Talissa’s mom, Robynne shares. “I’m a little bit bigger and I wanted to change that,” Talissa says. “I just looked at the average person that’s joined Kurbo and how far they’ve come and that inspired me to do it.”

Talissa and her coach worked together to decide what changes she could make to live a healthier lifestyle. “Before I would just start eating without thinking about it. Coach Lauren taught me how to read labels and how to figure out the number of red lights I should have. We talk about exercise and the importance of sleep too, in maintaining a healthy weight,” Talissa shares.


Meet Coach Monica: Mother, dog-lover, and experimental chef!

Coach Monica wanted to be a Kurbo coach to help kids all around the world learn to be healthy.  “I have always enjoyed reading to children and going on nature walks with them, exploring nature and science. My personal mission is to do what I can in my own small way to help our children and teens become happy, healthy, confident and successful. It takes a village to raise a child and I like to be a part of this village. I am very grateful for Kurbo for giving me a platform to further this mission while helping Kurbo families here and abroad stay healthy and happy.”

She loves that Kurbo is about forming honest and supportive connections between coaches and families. “I focus on what is going well and all the positive outcomes while brainstorming strategies together to overcome challenges. Everything that follows is an honest exchange/sharing of information, questions and answers and challenges. I am humbled that my Kurbo kids/teens feel like they can be themselves when we skype or talk on the phone. Most of them thank me at the end and one of them in particular says ‘I love you Monica’ at the end of the call. Nothing touches me more than when I see them smile at the end of our conversation.”


Spooky Snacks for Halloween

As we get close to the end of October, don’t let your Halloween “BOO”s turn into red light busts!

With Halloween coming up, there are sure to be many parties and events full of sugary snacks, not to mention the variety of candy that seems to be around every corner. A fun way to stay on track with your Kurbo goals is to make your own Halloween recipes. You can make delicious AND nutritious treats to share with your friends and family to celebrate Halloween!

Check out these Kurbo friendly Halloween treats that allow for healthy indulgence this October!


MedCity Honors Kurbo for Innovative Patient Engagement

Kurbo was named among the Top 3 health start-ups for innovative patient engagement by a panel of health industry experts organized by the health industry publication MedCity.  MedCity’s editorial team chose 15 finalists from about 60 total submissions, and then the final three were chosen by a panel of industry experts.  Patient engagement is key to get patients involved in their own health and is the cornerstone for some of the behavior change that is necessary to move the needle in healthcare.

“Enabling patients to achieve their care plan is one of the thorniest issues in healthcare,” said Nancy Fabozzi, principal analyst for Connected Health at Frost & Sullivan and one of the judges on the panel.  The other judges who chose Kurbo as second runner-up were Dave deBronkart, also known as ePatient Dave;  Dr. Fred Rachman, CEO of Alliance of Chicago Community Health Services; and Lygeia Ricciardi, a national thought leader in consumer engagement and digital health.

Kurbo works closely with its Fortune 100, Medicaid and other institutional partners to ensure high enrollment  in its effective weight loss and fitness program.  In addition to taking a customized, multi-channel digital and offline approach to increase awareness and engagement with each partner, the Kurbo program itself was designed at the start to solve many key challenges to successful implementation.  As a mobile app, it ensures that participants of all ages, incomes and demographics have easy access.  Then daily feedback from Kurbo’s team of trained coaches help keep participants on track.  90 percent of participants who complete Kurbo’s initial 12-week program lose weight and improve BMI, along with their entire family achieving health benefits.

“Childhood obesity is a serious problem in the United States — with overall prevalence over 17%, highest in older children and adolescents — and health care providers struggle to find and implement effective interventions,” Dr.Rachman said. “Kurbo has taken an evidence-based intervention and made it accessible to children via mobile devices.”

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Kurbo Weight Loss Success Story: Sophia learns to resist her urge to snack and drops 12 lbs

Sophia was having trouble resisting urges to snack at home. “I was home alone a lot and I didn’t have any self control. I was snacking too much and cooking a lot of unhealthy foods to eat when I was bored. I would try to stop snacking, but I just couldn’t do it on my own.”

She wanted something that would keep her accountable, and that was Kurbo. “I just wanted something where I could put down what I was eating and everything I was eating. I wanted some external form accountability,” Sophia says. She found Kurbo. “Kurbo took her dad and I out of the equation of trying to help her make healthier choices. Instead, it was a partnership with her and her coach,” her mom, Lisa, notes.