Whatever comes to mind: Weight loss apps able to cause problems

Whatever Comes To MindBy George Flynn | Opinions Editor

It’s finally 2014. With the New Year upon us, the mantra “New Year, New Me,” can once again be heard chanted around campus. Resolutions are a strong form of creating achievable goals, but with all likelihood won’t last into February. One of the most popular New Year’s resolutions I have witnessed is getting fit or losing weight.

An excellent goal, working toward a healthy routine and earning the fit body that comes with it is a desire many strive to achieve. However, these goals can become very dangerous if one makes their resolution an unhealthy obsession which can lead to an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia.

According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, “Up to 24 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder (anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder) in the U.S.”

Weight loss apps can help achieve the body you want, but it can be dangerous. Weight loss or calorie counter apps such as Calorie Counter, Diet Tracker and Daily Burn can lead to body image issues. With these high statistics mentioned, anyone can fall into an unhealthy pattern.

A 2010 ABCNews article by Courtney Chapman discusses the dangers of these smartphone applications. Chapman cites clinical psychologist, Lara Pence, on the subject.

“I think that it’s [apps] tying into the eating disorder mentality of making sure that you know everything that’s going into your body, having those obsessive thoughts of calorie counting, keeping track of your weight, keeping track of what goes in and what goes out through exercise,” Pence said.

These apps assist people trying to lose weight. However, they can harm someone who either has an eating disorder or someone who has the possibility to develop one. As Pence said, the apps can tie into the eating disorder mentality if the person using the app has that type of mentality.

The article gives an example of one girl’s suffering from using apps for losing weight. A girl from an undisclosed location and age named Hannah Kula had an unsavory relationship with food.

“‘Looking at myself when I came to high school I felt like I was a little bit chubby. You start to notice maybe the girls don’t eat as much as boys.’ It wasn’t until Kula, now 20, went away to college that her eating disorder fully developed,” Chapman said.

After Kula started developing the disorder, she obtained the apps which only exacerbated her obsession with weight.

“‘Just having that technology right there at my fingertips, I could get everything that my eating disorder needed,’ Kula said. ‘I could cut down on my weight and control what my body looked like, and that’s what I wanted’,” Chapman said.

According to the ABCNews article, the app took control of her entire life and deteriorated her relationship with food. She was constantly browsing nutrition facts and checked calorie content for every meal.

Calorie counting apps and goals to stay healthy and fit gone wrong are quite scary. According to Pence, these apps are just something fun at the beginning.

“‘I think before they know it, it’s become something that’s spiraled out of control. It’s something that starts out small but grows into an extreme, and that’s when it becomes a problem’,” Pence said. It’s quite easy for something seemingly harmless to get out of control.

The apps that assist in counting calories are not negative. They can be helpful. However, it is important to keep a smart outlook on the way we go about losing weight and staying healthy in this New Year. You should stay fit and love your body. Stay in control with your weight and health goals. Control the calorie counter app. Don’t let the calorie counter app control you.

George Flynn is a senior English major and can be reached at flynng@duq.edu.