Culture

Here’s Why Activists And Parents Are Upset About A New Weight Loss App For Children

This week, WW, the ridiculously rebranded name for weight loss company Weight Watchers, proved that despite its new designation, the global brand is offering more of the same problematic trash to the world — this time, directed at children in particular.

On Tuesday, WW launched Kurbo, a nutrition and weight loss app for kids between the ages of 8 and 17 years old.

Not surprisingly health experts are furious about the danger it could pose to the physical and mental health of our young people.

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“You NEED to Shut. This. Down,” Whitney Fisch, a social worker, school counselor and mom of three, wrote Wednesday on Facebook. “All bodies, especially growing + developing bodies, deserve respect + the ability to grow into whatever shape they’re meant to grow to be.”

The company describes the app, which is free, as a “scientifically-proven behavior change program designed to help kids and teens age 8-17 reach a healthier weight” that was acquired from Stanford University’s Pediatric Weight Control Program. It uses a traffic light system to instruct youth on foods that they should eat and those that they should avoid. Kids are urged to eat plenty of “green light” foods, including fruits and vegetables, to be “mindful” of their portions of “yellow light” foods, like lean protein, whole grains and dairy, and to lessen their intake of “red light” foods, such as sugary drinks and “treats.” The app also encourages users to track their daily physical activity and deep breathing.

With a paid, subscription-based plan, children can also receive through the app one-on-one sessions with coaches that are supposed to be experts in nutrition, exercise, and mental health. However, the Huffington Post reports that these coaches do not need to have any credentials in health or nutrition fields; though they do go through a minimum of six to eight hours of initial training.

Eating disorder treatment experts are concerned about the impact an app like Kurbo could have on a young person’s mental health, self-esteem and eating habits.

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“While the intention of the app is to promote health and wellness, there is the risk that it could do more harm than good,” Kathryn Argento, a registered dietician with The Renfrew Center, a national network of eating disorder treatment centers for women and girls, told the Huffington Post. “Targeting kids as young as 8 years old to focus on … their bodies can lead to an intense preoccupation with food, size, shape and weight.”

Aside from the damaging impact apps like this one can have on a children’s relationship with their bodies and food, public health organizations and pediatricians also doubt the efficacy of children’s weight loss programs altogether.

“The evidence suggests that these types of tools may be helpful adjuncts to weight management, but there are few studies in pediatrics to confirm that they lead to a ‘meaningful change in their weight trajectories,’” Dr. Ihuoma Eneli, director of the Center for Healthy Weight and Nutrition at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, told the news outlet.

As part of WW’s rebranding, the company and app have chosen to start focusing on overall health and wellness in addition to weight loss.

According to Gary Foster, chief scientific officer at WW, Kurbo “isn’t a weight loss app.”

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“This is an app that teaches in a game-ified, fun, engaging way what are the basics of a healthy eating pattern,” he told the Huffington Post.

But parents still worry the app could be spreading an all-too-familiar message that they are unworthy as they are and must change their physical appearance to be accepted. While young people already receive these memos from a diet-obsessed mass media, parents fear that unrealistic beauty ideals are now being pushed on impressionable children in the name of health and wellness.

In response to these apprehensions, Foster said: “I think there could be some misperception that somehow we’re saying, ‘All kids should lose weight, you’re not OK as you are.’ What we’re saying to kids who are trying to achieve a healthier weight — kids and families — is that this is a reasonable, sensible way to do it.”

But despite this alleged kid-friendly wellness mission, Kurbo’s website sends another message.

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Its landing page shows young people’s “success stories,” and they’re celebrating weight loss, not how often they meditate or how many ounces of water they drink daily.

“There’s no way that these kids don’t realize that the app is supposed to help them lose weight,” Ginny Jones, an eating disorder recovery activist, said. “No matter how hard it tries to market itself as a wellness company, WW is about weight loss. Kids are way smarter than we think they are, and every ‘big kid’ who [has been] put on a weight loss program knew exactly what their parents were trying to do.”

Read: She Shared Stories Of Being Fat-Shamed At The Doctor And Fear Of Wearing A Two-Piece Then, Jessica Torres Accidentally Built One Of The Biggest Body Positive Communities

Want To Learn About The Indigenous History Of Your Neighborhood? This New App Will Help You

Things That Matter

Want To Learn About The Indigenous History Of Your Neighborhood? This New App Will Help You

Native Lands

For all the (let’s be absolutely honest here!) banal uses of social media out there, sometimes developers use the geolocative capabilities of smartphones to make the world a more inclusive place. This app looks at the history of a place and reveals how it was originally organized by the traditional owners of the land before processes of colonization and dispossession reshaped the maps of what is now known as the Americas. Digital media allows us to visualize things that are already there, so next time you step on indigenous land you can quietly acknowledge it. 

Through location, the Native Land app lets you unearth the indigenous heritage of a place.

Credit: Native Land

The app was developed in Canada, a country which was a complex network of indigenous groups before French and British colonial powers redrew the map. The app can be accessed both through mobile devices (it works on iOS and Android) and through a browser based map. It includes key information such as a group’s language, name and whether the land was ceded (most likely by force or through a deceptive deal) through a treaty. It is a work in progress, so bear with the developers please!

They state before you even start looking for the indigenous past of a territory based on your postcode: “This map does not represent or intend to represent official or legal boundaries of any Indigenous nations. To learn about definitive boundaries, contact the nations in question. Also, this map is not perfect — it is a work in progress with tons of contributions from the community. Please send us fixes if you find errors”. So if you have information that the developers could use to make the app more precise, they are more than open to new findings that could make this collaborative tool a more accurate representation of the indigenous imprint on a place. Ready to find out more about the place that you call home? Click here

Remember: maps are only political and not set on stone, so the map you know was drawn by colonial powers.

Credit: Native Land

Contrary to what we might believe, maps are hardly set on stone. In fact, how a territory is named and where boundaries sit is evidence of historical processes through which lands are taken. Just look at this map of North America and think about all the blood that has been shed by the original owners of the land just so we can identify just three countries today. There were hundreds of discreet ethnic groups in Canada, Mexico and the United States before the European superpowers of Britain, France and Spain landed and created havoc. 

But the past is past, right? So why should we care? Well, we should care, a lot, particularly in today’s political climate. Let’s take this map of the California area as an example.

Credit: Native Land

So why is becoming familiar with the indigenous past of place important? Because it tells us that the borders that exist today are practically a human invention rather than something set on stone, and that unless you have indigenous heritage we are all guests. California, for example, was populated by a wide variety of peoples who were conquered by the Spanish or assimilated into mestizo culture through religion and language. So when white supremacists get all “America for the Americans” on Brown folk, they should be reminded that the land is and has always been indigenous. 

And this map of Australia is just nuts! Can you believe that colonial settlers have tried to make this country fully white and monolingual in the past?

Credit: Native Land

Australia is a young country that nevertheless has faced racism due to the aires de grandeza of some colonial settlers. Even though there has been a formal apology from the government towards aboriginal Australians, and there are constant acknowledgements to the fact that the land was never ceded, there remain great challenges to make the country truly inclusive for those who owned and thrived in the land in the first place. Just looking at this map makes you think of the wide variety of languages and traditions that existed in the island before the Dutch and English arrived

WATCH: Singer Cuco Is Teaching Fans How To Make Authentic Enchiladas Verdes From His Abuelita

Culture

WATCH: Singer Cuco Is Teaching Fans How To Make Authentic Enchiladas Verdes From His Abuelita

Tasty / Facebook

Cuco may have become synonymous with dreamy Spanish indie bedroom pop, but he can also make some mean enchiladas verdes just like his abuelita used to make. In a recent recipe video by Tasty, Cuco explains how he got his name. “Cuco came from my mom saying I was crazy, like “coocoo,” cause I was a goofy kid. My grandparents speak Spanish, so they would say I was el Cuco,” he tells Tasty. The 21-year-old singer wanted to show us how to make proper enchiladas verdes because it’s the food he grew up eating, thanks to his mom, and has become one of his favorite dishes.

Here’s Cuco’s recipe, and all the other Mexicanos telling him that their abuela makes it different.

Start with fresh tomatillos, serrano peppers, and garlic.

CREDIT: TASTY / FACEBOOK

I repeat. Cuco does not buy canned or jarred enchilada verde salsa. He makes them like a true abuela.

“If you want your salsa to be spicy, you can up the number of serrano peppers. If you like it more mild, I recommend using maybe like one or just like half a serrano pepper. You can also remove the seeds,” Cuco advises his Tasty viewers. “I personally like spicy, so I put serrano peppers to make it hot.”

Cuco isn’t about seedless salsa verde, y’all. He also reveals that he knows more than just how to make good enchilada verde salsa. He knows the why of it all.

“The reason we boil the tomatoes, onions, garlic, and the serrano peppers, is because we want to maintain the green color. If we were to roast the ingredients, we’d get more of a browner salsa,” he says in the video, casually blowing our uneducated minds.

After boiling everything to your liking, you just blend it all up in a blender, adding water until it becomes the consistency you want in a good enchilada salsa. Then, add the mixture to a pan and saute to bring out the flavors even more. Voila! You’ve made salsa verde. Now, add a thin layer at the bottom of your baking dish.

Don’t be lazy. Fry your tortillas for Cuco-approved enchiladas.

CREDIT: TASTY / FACEBOOK

“It’s definitely worth taking extra time to fry tortillas. A crispier tortilla is more likely to hold its shape while baking and the enchiladas will be less mushy,” Cuco sagely offers like an abuelita would. “After you finish frying your tortillas, you’ll dip them in the remaining salsa. This will make them easier to roll and ensure they won’t dry out while baking,” he added, proving tradition runs deep in this indie artist.

Once you dip the fried tortillas in the salsa, you just to add shredded rotisserie chicken (or the vegan meat of your choice) to the center of the tortilla, and roll.

“We’re using rotisserie chicken here but this recipe is also good if you have any kind of leftover chicken you’re trying to get rid of,” Cuco says, reaching full hay-comida-en-la-casa status at the mention of leftovers.

After you’ve rolled the tortillas, you’ll want to take Cuco’s advice and “be sure to arrange them seam-side down” in the baking dish, so that “they’ll continue to hold its shape and filling during baking.” Top the enchiladas with the remaining salsa verde, and heap plenty of cheese on top. “I go crazy with the cheese. It’s just fire,” Cuco confesses to the outlet. Put it in the oven and broil for 3 minutes. Top off the cooked dish with cilantro and crema to help balance the spices of the salsa verde, and you’ve got yourself Cuco-approved enchiladas verdes.

Cuco thinks its “crucial” for people to try real Mexican food.

CREDIT: TASTY / FACEBOOK

“I think it’s just really crucial to go try Mexican food if you haven’t tried it before because it expands beyond tacos,” he urged Tasty fans. “Tacos are good but there’s a lot more really good dishes in the culture – enchiladas verdes, chilaquiles, tortas, pozole. There’s good food everywhere. It’s good to know where the good food spots are at in your city.” 

Cuco has proven to be a master of both English-language and Spanish-language indie pop music, often gifting us Latino-American Spanglish speakers the gift of Spanglish love songs. We’re even more in love with you, Cuco, given the way to our collective heart is good abuelita food. “I think food really connects people. Music and food are both like art,” Cuco himself said in the Tasty video. That makes Cuco a Renaissance Abuelo.

Watch the full video below.

Enchiladas Verdes Con Pollo As Made By Cuco

Watch as Cuco teaches us how to make his family's delicious enchiladas verdes, made easy with rotisserie chicken and homemade salsa. Follow Cuco on Instagram: http://instagram.com/cucopuffs

Posted by Tasty on Tuesday, November 26, 2019

READ: The Laziest Food Hacks In All Of The Land Would Send Your Abuela To The Chancla