People are becoming more aware of fad diets’ empty promises and potential harm. The tide has turned, with the attention now on exercise trackers and apps. Excessive exercise is the new fad diet.

I recently came across an advertisement for a walking weight loss app. It showed the silhouette of a woman with a starting weight of 80kg and, through the use of a time lapse video, shows her silhouette slimming down to 49kg over 8 weeks. Impressive, right? But let’s think this through before we are mesmerised by the clever marketing techniques and get the urge to click the ‘GET’ button.

 

Female

The ad is intentionally pitched at women. Why? Because for decades, women have been told that they have to be thinner (preferably thin) in order to be prettier, healthier, more confident. However, anything that focuses on the pursuit of weight loss will only fuel body dissatisfaction, disordered eating and unhappiness.

 

Quick

The app also has us believe weight loss is quick – it only takes 8 weeks! But, like short term fad diets, what then?

 

Easy

The app would have us believe weight loss is easy. The time lapse video persuasively conveys the notion that a bigger bodied woman can simply dial down her dimensions and achieve a slender body. It gives the notion that bodies are super elastic – the weight comes off proportionally and ‘problem areas’ vanish. In reality, weight loss won’t change our body shape, weight loss cannot be spot targeted, and sagging skin and stretch marks are often the result of losing lots of weight too fast.

 

Achievable

Is what the app promises, actually achievable? The app would have us believe that the amount of exercise required can effortlessly slot into our current lifestyle. In reality, something will have to give. We have to prioritise the habits needed for the changes we value. However, to achieve a weight loss of 31kg, over 8 weeks, through just walking alone (given that the app is making this claim based only on walking), would equate to exercising for more hours than there are in a day! Essentially, there’d be no time for work, sleep or … life. No thank you.

 

49kg? No problem!

We have moved from a ‘one fad diet suits all’ mentality to a ‘one exercise app fits all’ mentality. The amount of weight loss the app advocates does not take into account a person’s height, age, eating habits, or current health. A weight loss of 31kg is essentially a weight loss of 40% of their starting weight. This amount of weight loss is extremely difficult, more than likely unsustainable, and could cause adverse health effects.

 

One size fits all

This app would have people believe that if you weigh 80kg it is (a) too much, and (b) you should, and can, get down to 49kg. However, for some, a starting weight of 80kg may be healthy. Pursuing weight loss may create problems that never existed. For others, striving for 49kg, may actually make them underweight. Forty nine kilograms is not a weight most adults can or should try to achieve.

But the biggest deception lies in the fact that people believe they can choose their end weight and that everyone can get down to the same weight. An “I’ll have what she’s having” and an “if she can, I can too” mentality doesn’t work for our bodies or our health.

 

Still about weight

The app does a good job of convincing us that a 40% weight loss is quick, easy and achievable. The other dangerous inherent message is that health is all about weight, and that this amount of weight loss is necessary. Weight is a poor marker of health. A focus on weight also detracts from sustainable, long-term self-care habits.

 

A word to the wise

  • be sceptical of anything (diet, app, or tracker) that justifies weight loss for health
  • listen to your body rather than letting an app dictate what and how much exercise you do
  • participate in forms of movement that you enjoy

 

If you need further support with eating habits or weight concerns, please seek professional support.

 

image by www.ildomaniditalia.eu

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