MyFitness Pal is a great app and has helped millions of adults worldwide lose weight. My Fitness Pal has done a fantastic job of creating a huge food database and food tracking system and is helping adults reduce their calories, increase their exercise and feel supported in their health endeavors.
However, MyFitnessPal is not safe or effective for kids. The company does not want kids under the age of 18 to use the app because they know that it is not appropriate for child weight loss. The key issue: they track calories, not health. Growing children need to eat healthier, not reduce their calories. For example, a child could use the app and determine they can reach their calorie count by eating 5 bags of potato chips and one brownie a day. If they ate this, they could probably lose weight, but it would not be healthy or sustainable. Additionally, many experts are concerned that the precision required by calorie counting can lead to eating disorders.
At Kurbo, we are implementing 30 years of research to help kids in the way that My Fitness Pal is helping adults. Our goal is to help kids learn to make healthy food choices and develop healthier habits. We use some of the same methods as MyFitnessPal. All research shows that tracking is the key component to weight loss for kids. Track exercise, track food, understand your behaviors, and you can most easily make change.
The Kurbo model, though not that distantly related to My Fitness Pal or Weight Watchers has several key distinctions that make it appropriate for childhood weight loss.
1. No calorie counting. Kurbo is a behavior modification program which teaches kids how to make balanced lifestyle choices rather than adopt the dieting mentality of calorie restriction. We do not want kids to start obsessing about calories, rather we want them to be able to categorize their foods no matter where they are so that they pass on red light foods in place of green lights and yellow lights.
2. One-on-one live weekly coaching. Coaching is the key to success for most kids because their coach meets them over FaceTime or Skype and develops a weight loss program that is specific for the child. The consistency eases the ability to keep healthy choices on the forefront of a child’s mind. Live coaching also helps parents stay informed and support their child.
Learn more about Kurbo health coaching in the video below:
3. Focus on BMI Percentile not pounds lost. Unlike adult weight loss program, the pounds lost is not important. Children can stay the same weight on Kurbo and still reach success because they are growing! As a child grows into their weight, their BMI percentile reduces. The measure of a healthy weight for a child is not solely measured the number appears on the scale but takes into consideration that they are growing. Coaches will work with kids on lowering their BMI percentile which could end up being just a few pounds.
4. Healthy habit creation is fun! The Kurbo app is a fun place for kids to learn the importance of tracking their food. Cool games, cute videos, cartoon avatars, and point challenges combined with an educational twist is a valuable way to keep kids engaged in forming new behaviors. Kurbo coaches are also armed with techniques and youthful energy to support the child’s health goals turning into long term behaviors.
So if you are using MyFitnessPal and it is working for you, try Kurbo for your kids. You may find that the entire family learns healthy habits and loses weight together with a method that is safe and effective for everyone.
Coach Arielle is an International Coaching Federation accredited coach and completed advanced training with kids and teens in Mind Body Medicine and Mindfulness meditation. Arielle is passionate about working with kids and wellness stemming from her own weight struggles. Arielle loves yoga, hiking, cooking, baking and experimenting in the kitchen. She discovered that by focusing on healthy behaviors rather than calories she could lead a happier and healthier life. Arielle graduated from UCSB.
Kurbo is a mobile weight management platform for kids, teenagers and their families. See if Kurbo’s child weight management solution is right for your child and visit our website.