Kurbo by WW (iOS Version 3.0.1)

Synopsis of the App: With a food tracker based on the “traffic light” system and an activity tracker, Kurbo by WW is a health coaching app for kids, teens and families.

Price and Platform: Free. Apple, Android, Web.

RDN Score: 1/5

Pros

  • Does not require calorie counting.
  • Option to turn off daily tracking reminders.
  • Offers non-weight related goals including get stronger and fitter and have more energy.
  • Offers a 7-day free trial for coaching with weekly check-ins.*

Cons

  • Kurbo has a few inconsistencies:
    • The app targets kids as young as 8, but the content is not optimized for this demographic.
    • With before and after photos and testimonials, weight loss is an inescapable theme. Setting a goal to “get stronger and fitter,” for example, doesn’t change the content. Kurbo still serves up color-coded foods and BMI and weight charts.
    • Although Kurbo promises a focus on behavior change, the spotlight is on food with limited content on behavior change. One might conclude that kids will deem certain foods bad and may feel guilt about eating or wanting them.
  • The food rating system and recipes could be improved.
    • With characters such as the “Red Raisins” hosting in-app games, people may be concerned that Kurbo might teach kids to avoid rice, bananas, lean chicken, low-fat milk and high-fat foods such as avocado, nuts and seeds, which all get a yellow light. Walnuts and almond butter earn a red light.
    • The recipes are not easily accessible. Recipes in the linked cookbook appear to focus on fat reduction using low-fat cheese and non-fat yogurt, and eliminating the tahini in hummus, for example.
  • Reminders to update weight at check-in could be triggering for some users.
  • *Of the nine coaches listed on the app’s website, one has a degree in a related field. Based on the bios provided, none appear to be RDNs or other health professionals with experience working with families dealing with obesity.
  • The privacy policy is not linked within the app but is available on the Kurbo website where it discloses how Kurbo may provide users’ personal information to third parties for marketing purposes.
  • Kurbo has some design flaws:
    • The tracker database contains limited ingredients; determining portions sizes and adding foods can be tedious.
    • From broken page links to poorly formatted documents with no images, the content is not designed to appeal to kids.
    • It’s pricey with plans starting at $294 for six months or $69 per month.

Bottom Line: Because kids are still growing and developing, diets are generally not recommended. With a focus on weight loss and tracking, this app makes healthy eating seem like a chore. Ultimately, Kurbo lacks the energy and visuals that might inspire a child to explore healthy eating and physical activity.

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Marisa Moore
Marisa Moore, MBA, RDN, LD, is based in Atlanta and specializes in culinary nutrition, communications and consulting. She blogs at marisamoore.com. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter.