Palo Alto Startup Aims to Curb Childhood Obesity

Can technology help kids shed pounds? Palo Alto-based startup Kurbo Health is betting it can, with an app that incorporates the best practices from adult weight loss programs. The company, which also offers in-person coaching programs, has raised $5.8 million to push a virtual coaching program that bundles tracking and feedback in a mobile app.

With the Kurbo app, children can keep track of their eating habits with a simple food tracking system that assigns different colors to different food categories. Parents can also use the app to track their children’s progress, but don’t have access to information on what their kids are eating. The absence of full transparency is aimed at helping families avoid tension and conflict over eating habits that can derail a child’s ability to successfully lose weight.

To see how families benefit differently from human coaching and the mobile app, Kurbo Health monitored the progress of children aged 8-18 over a 10-week trial, finding that children who used the mobile app lost more weight than the kids who participated in the human coaching program. What is most promising however is that 90 percent of the families who worked with Kurbo continued using the app after the 10-week beta test finished.

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