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Apporexia- Correlations Between Dieting Apps and Eating Disorders?

By Jennifer Barak

Edited by Bryce Swiggum

 


Nowadays, technology has the capabilities of making many aspects of our lives easier; from Wikipedia to our beloved smartphones, we enjoy countless benefits to these devices we’ve become rather dependent on. However, becoming dependent may not be healthy, and becoming addicted to some forms of these technologies can most definitely cause a variety of issues. Diet Apps are applications a person can download onto their smartphones or computers, these apps keep track of the calories going in and out of your body, and are designed to benefit the average person live a healthier lifestyle. However, when this kind of technology is given to someone at risk of an eating disorder, it can be life threatening.

 

These easy calorie-counters and weight loss tips have made it easier than ever for people to obsess over their diet. People of all ages and sexes have become even more cautious about the food they put into their bodies. Rachel Gerson was in high school when she downloaded her first diet app; according to New Republic’s article “Hunger Games”, she became constantly aware of what foods she was eating, and how that impacted her view on food, “’I started to become rigid on foods I’d never had to think about before. Nothing’s really OK anymore because everything ‘counts’”. According to the article, the most popular free app, MyFitnessPal, gains 1.5 million people each month; and that around 75% of young-adult patients being treated for eating disorders use this technology to support their disorder. In an article published by Examiner, “Could your iPhone give you Anorexia?” another young woman named Hannah Kula began tracking her food shortly after going to college, and that these apps fed into her food obsession, “’Just having that technology right there at my fingertips, I could get everything that my eating disorder needed. I could cut down on my weight and control what my body looked like, and that’s what I wanted’”. Both of these women were susceptible to eating disorders, and claim that they realize the apps were created for health purposes; but while eating disorders may not be directly caused by popular apps, it can greatly affect a person at risk for eating disorders. With as many as 70% of healthy believing they are overweight, this combination could create some issues for young girls, and young people in general. This type of technology can benefit many individuals; however, it can be life threatening if put into the wrong hands.

 

These apps are very prevalent on Wesleyan’s campus, several students can be seen, phone in hand, walking around the Prairie Wolf Dining Center, seeing if the available meals keep in line with that person’s fitness goals. In a poll taken by Wesleyan students, over half of students interviewed had downloaded a “Diet App” onto their phone; most women interviewed had downloaded such apps, and many had downloaded more than one. Male students were also affected by diet apps, however, they referred to them as fitness apps, and many claimed it was more for exercise purposes as opposed to calorie counting. I have personally downloaded at least 5 Diet Apps in my lifetime, and in the time I used them, I was miserable. From sugar withdrawal to the torture chamber known as the treadmill; I only lasted two weeks. Nonetheless, with everyone horrified of he notorious freshman fifteen, and with free apps available at the push of a button, many Wesleyan students may become dependent on these apps, and not in a “healthy” way. The technology available today is astounding, but if what we’re creating is hurting us, is it really an advancement?

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