Weight Watchers Targeting Teens With Their Free Program Creates Problems

In the first quarter of 2018, Weight Watchers announced plans to offer a six-week program with a free membership to children as young as 13 years old to premier in the summer of 2018. The goal of the program is to create a lifetime customer base, but the program has come under fire from parents, body image experts, and eating disorder professionals. The uproar is based on the fact the teens participating in the program focus on changing their body shape and size, and this can have a lasting effects on how they view food for the rest of their lives.

Weight Watchers where Oprah Winfrey is a board member, and DJ Khaled is one of its spokespersons, is setting the stage for a generation plagued by eating disorders. According to a clinical report authored by the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2016, dieting for losing weight increases a child’s chances of developing an eating disorder, and gaining unhealthy weight in the future.

How Does It Work

To play the Weight Watchers game, you will have to record what you drink and eat online or on the WW app, then keep in line with the rules as much as you can. While this is acceptable for people of majority age, it deprives the children the feeling of self-worth. Like  most people, when they lose at something they get frustrated and the energy to start all over again diminishes the more times they fail.

Teenagers going through their adolescent days already have a lot on their plate and adding body shape and size frustrations will deprive them of their confidence. The rest of their life will involve looking at food and calculating how many calories they are consuming and this takes away the pleasure of living. Should they reach their ideal weight, they will have heightened food insecurities leading to a full-blown eating disorder to maintain the weight and gain approval.

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