WW Launching Weight Loss Program for Kids and Teens…

I have been hearing about WW launching a kids and teen program for a while, and I have a BIG problem with it…

First of all, adjusting calories, points, carbs, or exercise is not the solution to long-term weight loss.

So, it doesn’t solve the problem they are looking to solve.

Secondly, the side-effects of putting kids in a program like this are SO HIGH that I think if WW fully understood that this would cause more problems, then it solves, they would re-think doing this. At least I hope they would.

And lastly, the last thing kids need to be thinking about is their body and weight.

Now WW claims this is a less dangerous program then the initial idea they had, but it’s just not true. For example, “kids 8 and up are taught to choose foods using the Traffic Light System — vegetables and fruits are all considered good choices and colored green; yellow foods like lean proteins, whole grains, and dairy are to be eaten mindfully, and desserts and soda are red foods that should be limited.”

Now, in theory, this may sound like harmless advice… but there are two main flaws with this:

  1. Anytime you label something as a “good choice,” you automatically turn everything else into a “bad choice.” We do not need 8-year-olds running around labeling things as good or bad. Or even as healthy or unhealthy. We want them listening to their bodies, not a sheet of paper that labels food.
  2. Anytime you say “should limit” you create restriction and deprivation. And where there are restriction and deprivation, closely following is overeating and binge eating.

Next, they mention portion sizes. When you attempt to teach someone how much to eat, you turn off communication from the body. Instead of learning to listen to the cues from the body, you end up listening to the signals of something externally. This teaches external eating cues instead of internal.

And the main flaw in ALL of this is that healthy eating is not a behavior that needs to be managed, manipulated, or controlled. The body is the best guide to help a person eat healthily and for kids, the only “nutrition” advice they need, is for caregivers to provide a variety of foods.

Kids are not able to grocery shop for themselves. And telling them they shouldn’t eat pizza because it’s unhealthy, or shouldn’t want it, is a recipe for disaster. At the most, we can teach kids the difference between high quality and low-quality food and then be clear that all foods are wonderful and the body will guide them to eat the quantities of all of them without interference.

Then in terms of teaching kids and teens, we need to teach them how to connect to their bodies, listen to their cues and signals, and live fulfilled, joyful, and vibrant lives as kids.

We need to teach them how to cope with emotions and life.

We need to talk about common feelings these kids are feeling like…

  • Feelings of not belonging
  • Feelings of inferiority
  • Perfectionism
  • Self-worth
  • Self-love
  • Trauma
  • Isolation
  • Disconnection

We need to help them navigate life, not a nutrition label. They watch us, that’s how they learn. We don’t teach babies how to walk; they watch us.

We don’t even teach them how to talk. They listen to us.

There are tons of things we can teach our kids, but when it comes to nutrition and health, watching us is plenty sufficient. Teach them how to deal with life, and we will have a lot fewer problems with weight.


About The Author

Michelle Hastie

Michelle Hastie Thompson is a recovered binge eater who turned her binge eating around and even got featured in Shape Magazine helping a woman lose weight in “My Weight Loss Diaries". She helps women end the battle of binge and overeating, fall in love with movement, and finally lose the weight permanently. A veteran weight loss coach for almost ten years, she is a Ph.D. student in Health Psychology and has three published books, the most recent titled, "Have Your Cake and Be Happy Too: A Joyful Approach to Weight Loss”.