Several eating disorder charity and support organizations like SEED call out Carrot Fit, a fitness app, for misinformation and harmful content.
Carrot Fit is a 'sadistic' app that 'transforms your flabby carcass into a Grade A specimen.' Although the app has been helping its users to reach their fitness goals, eating disorder organizations believe that the way it portrays it is harmful.
Gemma Oaten from SEED told BBC that the way the app addresses weight is scary for those struggling with body image and eating disorders, especially amidst the pandemic. She called out the app for its problematic and triggering phrases and for it to be banned entirely or at least to be given a trigger warning.
Apple recently promoted the app as one of the must-have fitness apps on the platform. Since the issue was brought up, Apple decided to raise its age restriction to 17-year-old and above.
Developer Brain Mueller explains the app already features many safety warnings, and its terms and conditions do not recommend the app for anyone below 18. They have then asked Apple to raise its age restriction to 18 years old and older.
Check out the app here.
What Do Experts Say?
Experts have joined the conversation. While the app gives its users a fitness experience in no other way other apps do, some tones and phrases could be dangerous.
"It is criminal that this industry is preying on the vulnerability of young people and creating a body dissatisfaction with an archaic, oppressive approach," specialist Dr. Khanya Price-Evans told BBC.
Hope Virgo, an award-winning international campaigner for eating disorders, believes that the app sends a 'dangerous' message to those affected. She sees the app being advertised to 12-year-old kids is concerning.
Dr. Dawn Branley-Bell, a psychologist at Northumbria University, criticizes the app for promoting weight loss to children using words filled with negative psychological impacts like 'failure,' 'flabby carcass,' and 'anger.'
Although there must be some people out there who find these words encouraging, developers must at least consider to some degree a big trigger warning. Or, at least, any way to soften the tones of the wordings.
Eating Disorder, In Numbers
Over time, anorexia nervosa, an eating disorder, has affected roughly nine percent population worldwide, especially BIPOC (black, indigenous, and people of color). Twenty-six percent even attempted suicide.
In the United States alone, the disorder has impacted over 28.8 million Americans' life, with less than six percent diagnosed as 'underweight.'
To this date, it remains one of the deadliest mental illnesses. National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD) reports that eating disorders result in at least one death every 52 minutes (10,200 deaths each year).
Economically, eating disorders cost at least $64.7 billion every year, including the cost of healthcare, food waste, and everything.
Check out the full report here.