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The Doctors discuss a Weight Watchers program for teenagers, which some are criticizing and claiming could lead to eating disorders and body image issues.
The program is offered free to teens ages 13 to 17 and the company claims it is intended to create healthy habits at a critical life stage. So is this program helpful or harmful?
The Doctors note that for many teens focusing on diets, food, and weight can have a negative impact, which can continue to have an effect throughout their life. Clinical psychologist Dr. Judy Ho notes that many teens who have a stigma regarding their weight can end up prioritizing weight loss over better health choices.
Dr. Judy feels that teaching teens to accept their bodies first and foremost is a good place to start, followed by healthy eating behaviors, and also teaching kids to trust their bodies and eat when they are hungry.
ER physician Dr. Travis Stork does feel that teens becoming excited and aware of nutrition and healthy eating could be one positive aspect of the program and notes how it could possibly influence how the whole family eats.
Weight Watchers released a statement regarding the program, which reads, "Earlier this week, we shared the future vision of Weight Watchers, including some changes we are making to bring health and wellness to all, not just the few. As part of that, we announced we would open WW to teens for free. We hear you NEDA, and we take our responsibility seriously. We know that the teenage years are a critical life stage and opening WW to teens with consent from a parent/guardian is about families getting healthier. What we will be providing for teens is a program that guides healthy habits for life, not a diet. We have and will continue to talk with healthcare professionals as we get ready to launch this program."