Instagram star Ashy Bines’ child-focused fitness programme could give kids body image issues and anxiety down the line, according to experts.
Ashy and Friends is pitched as tool for teaching children about healthy eating, exercise and nutrition, but New Zealand experts say its message is potentially dangerous.
The 29-year-old Gold Coast mother-of-one launched the “edu-tainment” programme for children between 12-months and 6 years partly to target child obesity.
“Our society is becoming less active, less healthy and more overweight every year,” Bines wrote on the Ashy and Friends site. “More than ever it is critical to inspire a love of health and fitness in our children.”
But doctors and parenting experts are not convinced by Bines’ approach.
Parenting Place senior family coach Jenny Hale says focusing on diet and weight-loss could fuel anxiety. “[It] is not what children should be responsible for. It can stop them being naturally carefree and unhindered to just get on with being a child,” Hale said.
Ashy and Friends features six cartoon characters, each with their own speciality. Two are focused on food and exercise.
Hale said the programme could be used as a fun tool, however there were times when the message was too extreme and needed balancing. “The focus should not be on ‘clean eating’, good and bad food, or weight loss or gain. Food should not be a negative thing – nor used as a reward or punishment. Children learn from watching their parents and take in the messages they send around food, health and exercise.”
“We don’t need to rely on a programme to get us exercising. We just need to use our bodies whenever we can.”
NZ Paediatric Society president David Newman said if parents had concerns about their child’s weight, then going to a health professional to look at height-to-weight ratio, health and nutrition was the best course of action.
“Weight loss is for adults. We don’t focus on weight loss for very young children at all, we focus on healthy living,” Newman said. “It’s about family. The exercise patterns that you pick up as individuals is that of our families. If we want active kids, we need to be active as well,” he said.
And if parents wanted their children to eat well, they best do it themselves.
Bines has made a name for herself in the past five years, attracting nearly 4 million Facebook followers and 929,000 fans on Instagram. Bines sells access to apps, supplements, diet plans, clothing and haircare products. The Auckland event on her Booty Tour last year attracted 2000 fans, who exercised together, took photos with Bines, French braided their hair to emulate her, and bought “Eat Sleep Squat Repeat” merchandise.
Earlier this year Kiwis said they had lost thousands of dollars to the Bines fitness empire, claiming authorised payments had been swiped from their credit cards, and in 2016 she came under attack for plagiarsing recipes.
Ashy Bines has not responded to Stuff’s requests for comment.
This article was originally published by Stuff.co.nz. Read the original here.
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