Navigation Links
Phone Apps Dialing Up Eating Disorders
Date:12/28/2009

High-tech aids might spur obsessive dieting -- but could also help fight obesity, experts say

MONDAY, Dec. 28 (HealthDay News) -- The smartphone applications that help modern-world dwellers find restaurants in Calcutta, calculate the size of a room or even read a bar code may also fuel eating disorders.

In the wrong hands, apps and other instant technology may trigger obsessional behavior by allowing teens and young adults to constantly count calories and monitor their weight and food intake, experts say.

"This has been a concern of ours," said Dr. Harry Brandt, director of the Center for Eating Disorders at Sheppard Pratt in Towson, Md. "So many high school and college students have iPhone or smartphones or BlackBerries and a wave of applications that, to individuals with eating disorders, can be very detrimental. It's a combination of obsessionality and perfectionism."

Also troubling is the possibility that weight loss and calorie-counting apps may push some vulnerable teens and young adults over the edge to anorexia or bulimia.

"Maybe a young woman doesn't yet have anorexia nervosa but begins to very carefully monitor all the foods she's eating and her caloric intake and her weight in a very rigorous way on an iPhone application and becomes so fixated on doing this that it becomes a goal to lose more and more to feel successful in that endeavor," Brandt said.

Other experts, even if they haven't yet seen an uptick in such app misuse, acknowledged that a troubling trend could be brewing.

"As you start to lose weight, as you become more starved, you can become obsessive about what you're doing," said Dr. Sara Forman, director of the outpatient eating disorders program at Children's Hospital Boston. "Often, once things get going and the more obsessive you get, then the more you're spurred on and the more inflexible you get."

Forman said she hadn't yet noticed the app phenomenon. "That doesn't mean it's not happening," she said. "We are usually a few steps behind [our patients] because there's so much technology going through us rapid fire."

Technology-based applications may provide a "smokescreen for people to convince themselves and others that what they're doing is healthy," said Dr. Michael Rich, director of the Center on Media and Child Health at Children's Hospital Boston.

But this new concern has to fit into a larger landscape of the overweight and obese. Two-thirds of Americans currently exceed a healthy body size, and, by some accounts, ever-evolving technology may actually be able to help these people.

"We have an obesity epidemic going on, so it's important to have some of these things," Forman said.

A study out of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that children who sent text messages detailing aspects of their exercise and food intake were more likely to stay in the program compared to kids who used conventional paper-and-pencil diaries (the study was not designed to look specifically at weight loss). The text messagers kept better track of their habits than did the diarists.

"Self-monitoring is one of the most important ingredients of the weight control recipe. The problem is that people do not stick to self-monitoring and thus lose track of what they are doing and do not experience weight loss," said Jennifer Shapiro, lead author of the study and scientific director of Santech, Inc. in La Jolla, Calif. "Unlike paper diaries, text messaging is quick, easy, fun, and their phones are usually with them. Text messaging allows for instant feedback, which is also very important when making behavioral changes."

Shapiro did the study while an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine.

And there are also efforts afoot to use Palm Pilots and text messaging to aid people with eating disorders, Brandt said.

"There are a lot of conflicting messages right now as a result of two different problems that require two different approaches," Brandt said. "You probably shouldn't be rigidly and compulsively monitoring your nutritional intake but should eat a wide variety of foods and not be obsessively calorie counting. The war on obesity says you have to be thinner, and the eating disorder prevention movement says you need to lighten up on yourself a bit."

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health has more on eating disorders.



SOURCES: Harry Brandt, M.D., director, Center for Eating Disorders, Sheppard Pratt, Towson, Md.; Sara Forman, M.D., director, outpatient eating disorders program, Children's Hospital Boston; Michael Rich, M.D., director, Center on Media and Child Health, Children's Hospital Boston; Jennifer R. Shapiro, Ph.D., scientific director, Santech, Inc., La Jolla, Calif.


'/>"/>
Copyright©2009 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved

Related medicine news :

1. Slowed Brain-Activity in Frequent Mobile Phone Users
2. New report on mobile phone research published
3. ReCellular Named Exclusive Cell Phone Recycling Partner for Consumer Cellular
4. Hospitals Say New Cordless Phone Helps Communication With Patients Who Speak Diverse Languages
5. PhoneTree Announces New Patient Messaging Product and Pricing Options
6. Sentry Telecare Establishes Partnering Program to Market Telephone Check-in and Personal Emergency Response Service
7. Blue Cross Stop Smoking Phone Coaching Enrollments Jumped in October
8. Cell Phones Put Traffic on Hold
9. Report Urges More Research Into Cell Phones
10. Telephone Nursing an Important Component of Managed Healthcare
11. VIDEO from Medialink and Siemens: Doctors Trade in their Stethoscopes for Microphones
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/27/2016)... ... June 27, 2016 , ... A revolution is underway. ... ambulance transport experience for the millions of people who require these medical transport ... taxi industry through the use of technology. Now, SmartEMS has put forth an ...
(Date:6/26/2016)... ... 27, 2016 , ... Quality metrics are proliferating in cancer care, and are ... the eye of the beholder, according to experts who offered insights and commentary in ... Managed Care. For the full issue, click here . , For the American ...
(Date:6/26/2016)... Viejo, California (PRWEB) , ... June 26, 2016 , ... ... Final Cut Pro X. , "Film editors can give their videos a whole new ... said Christina Austin - CEO of Pixel Film Studios. , ProSlice Levels contains ...
(Date:6/26/2016)... ... 26, 2016 , ... Brent Kasmer, a legally blind and certified personal trainer is helping to ... app. The fitness app plans to fix the two major problems leading the fitness industry ... fits all type program , They don’t eliminate all the reasons people quit ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... Experts from the ... AcademyHealth’s Annual Research Meeting June 26-28, 2016, at the Hynes Convention Center in ... topics including advance care planning, healthcare costs and patient and family engagement. , ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... LEXINGTON, Mass. , June 24, 2016   ... specialty pharmaceutical company developing innovative inhaled drugs, announced today ... when Russell Investments reconstituted its comprehensive set ... 2016. "This is an important milestone for ... "It will increase shareholder awareness of our progress in ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... HOUSTON , June 23, 2016  MedSource ... platform as its e-clinical software solution of choice.  ... the best possible value to their clients by ... nowEDC.  The preferred relationship establishes nowEDC as the ... pricing for MedSource,s full-service clients.  "nowEDC has long ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 ... "Pharmaceutical Excipients Market by Type (Organic Chemical (Sugar, ... Formulation (Oral, Topical, Coating, Parenteral) - Global Forecast to ... The global pharmaceutical excipients market ... at a CAGR of 6.1% in the forecast period ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: