Quarantine 15: The problem with the increased ads on weight loss and fasting apps
How much is too much
For most of us, the Quarantine 15 (the 15-pound weight gain during isolation) might be something of concern. Gaining weight while staying at home is, believe it or not, a normal occurrence. With the increased accessibility to our home kitchens, the major drop in step count, and the greater ease of ordering groceries or ready-made meals from the comfort of our own homes, it's no surprise that we're bound to pack on a couple of pounds. Those who are more self-disciplined and motivated to maintain their fitness goals are turning to at-home workout apps, and some of us are choosing to take things easy as we gradually return to the new normal. But one thing is in common: weight-loss apps and fasting ads have been running amok — and not all of them are built for goodness.
Apart from trying to survive the actual pandemic that is COVID-19, we have to put up with the pandemic of weight-loss apps and fasting ads that have started to emerge all over our social media pages. With the immense level of stardom that Youtube fitness gurus like Chloe Ting promising "rock-hard abs in just two weeks", companies are not holding back in promoting their weight-loss ads and apps that can in fact, be dangerously destructive in reality.
Look up 'fasting' on the App Store and you'll find too many apps that claim to give you health hacks so you can track how much (or, rather, how little) you're eating. Apps like Zero and Vora help you time your fasts, as well as calorie tracking apps like MyFitnessPal that are having a moment right now — all by encouraging you to be terribly calculative of every single thing that passes your lips. For the uninitiated, these apps even allow you to track how often you exercise and catalogue every single thing you eat. Of course, let's not dismiss the benefits — an individual who is conscious and discerning on healthy living would employ good results from the app's features. The danger lies in workout routines and claims, that leave out certain crucial points — just because they value results over the supposed over-arching theme of health.
So what does this spell for those who suffer from eating disorders, or are in the process of recovering from them? The problem is: these apps do exactly what they're meant to do. They work all too well in getting you to cut down on what you're eating. The sheer volume of ads for weight-loss and fasting apps on Instagram, TikTok and Youtube can be especially triggering for those who are struggling with their eating disorders. These apps work like games with their different built-in tools, giving you a false sense of achievement for successfully starving yourself.
Experts have even warned that these apps do more harm than good, so we should all be aware of the detrimental impacts that they potentially hold for us. The prevalence of diet culture in mainstream media is a pandemic in itself, and it's time we recognised what's truly beneficial for us. So the next time you see another suspicious little advertisement on TikTok with someone giving you quick tips on how to fast effectively, cross-check the information and speak to neighbouring voice of reason to see if all that constitues to be healthy.