Fitness apps can make dieting easier. Instead of writing on a piece of paper with a calculator by your side to add up your calories, the app will do it for you. While these apps were made with good intentions, an article on Broadly proves that people with eating disorders will abuse these apps to support their unhealthy eating habits.

Vora is an app where you consume nothing but water. You log your fasts on the app and share the results on Instagram. You can create profiles, follow friends, publish your fasts, and then comment on other’s progress. In that app exists pro-ana social media accounts or forums which celebrate and promote anorexia, giving people dangerous tips that can compromise their health. On Instagram, one person has admitted to doing a fifteen hour fast for six days and another has done a sixteen hour fast with hashtags like #thinsperation and #almostskinnygirl. People motivate others to fast longer and feel that when they see someone fasting longer than them, they feel compelled to fast even longer.

There are a variety of health apps that people with eating disorders abuse like MyFitnessPal, Toilet Tracker, Eating Thin, Calorie King, Chonometer, Plant Nanny, and Carrot Fit which “electrocutes” an obese avatar when you do not get to your goal weight. According to Broadly, 22 year-old Gráinne was treated at the hospital for tachycardia and low blood sugar after abusing MyFitnessPal. Eating disorder activist Erin Rose Puttock abused MyFitnessPal as she was constantly checking and changing her food plan within her acceptable food range. She was also addicted to the iPhone health app which cannot be deleted off the iPhone where she felt she needed to walk a certain amount of steps a day, increasing the distance each day. Puttock never got a response from Apple when she asked for the app to be taken off her phone.

More needs to be done to stop abusing health apps. Clinical psychologist Dr. Bamford suggests for these apps to have warnings when people display extreme behaviors or their weight is outside a healthy range. Users should be screened for their risky behaviors and redirected to mental health resources. Recovery Road is an app for those with eating disorders to record meals and how you feel after eating. Bad eating habits should not be supported and it is important to refer someone to treatment before their health declines.

Located in downtown Midland, The Springboard Center’s mission is to offer programs and services to treat alcohol and drug addiction treatment using an evidence based curriculum, 12 step programs, diet, nutrition, exercise, emotional, mental and spiritual development for a long recovery. For more information, please call us at 432-620-0255 as we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.