Weight Watchers–one of the biggest diet-pushing empires in the world–has announced that they are going to be offering “free programs” for teenagers as young as 13 this summer, as part of a company agenda to build a longer and more loyal customer base. Apparently, the logic behind that is to get kids to be worried about their weights as early as possible, with the key factor of their campaign being that those who participate should live a healthier life-style by eating as many expensive Weight Watchers meals as possible.
As The Washington Post explains, there is a danger when “weight” is made a priority over “health” when it comes to eating. More importantly, perhaps, is that 91% of women reportedly have a sense of “dissatisfaction” with their bodies, with teenage boys also feeling that way in a high percentage. Teenage years are also when eating disorders are most likely to develop, so what better way to get those kids to feel rotten about themselves than by telling them they need to go on a diet for “free”?
Granted, parents do need to sign permission slips in order for their kids to be entered into the program. In a statement released by the company, Weight Watchers expressed that they are doing this “to help those who need healthy habits to develop them at this critical life-stage. It is a limited joining period, but the free access will continue through age 17. They will be required to go to one of our meeting locations for their parent/guardian to provide consent, as we know that a family-based approach is critical for kids. We think there’s a real opportunity to make an impact on a problem that is not currently being addressed effectively. We’re very excited about the potential impact this could make on the next generation . . . and on families as a whole.”
Let me re-translate all of that for you. They want for teenagers, who already feel uncomfortable enough on a daily basis already, to be drug into an office building in order to have a total stranger address them in a condescending manner to tell them they are fat. They will then be told that this is being done “out of love for them” and that this is only being done “so they have a better future,” which, again, is something teenagers would totally love to happen to them. They will then go throw a program that attempts to get them to depend on Weight Watchers in order to be skinny, which they will be told is the same as “being healthy.”
You can do something by tweeting directly to Weight Watchers on Twitter. American Dad! voice actress Rachel MacFarlane has also taken a stand on the matter on social media.