Wearable Technology Enabling Eating Disorders?
Reality-Shifting Comments: By Rebecca Smith
With the rise in popularity of wearable fitness tracking devices, there has conversely been a rise in the debates about whether these devices are enabling eating disorders. Such devices can lead to obsessive behaviors when it comes to monitoring food intake and caloric output. Users may become abnormally pre-occupied with the amount of food that they are consuming and the number of calories that they are burning which may lead to eating disorders in extreme cases.
While the devices are intended to help people become more mindful of their overall health and fitness, there is certainly potential for the devices to contribute to the development of an eating disorder, or, in cases in which an eating disorder is already present, may worsen the severity of the illness. However, the device is definitely not the only factor at play here. There are other factors that may pre-dispose an individual to develop an eating disorder such as a history of the illness, a history of other mental illnesses, severe body dissatisfaction, etc.
In other words, not everyone who uses fitness tracking devices will develop an eating disorder. Indeed, the majority of users do not experience disordered eating behaviors. However, in individuals who are at risk for developing an eating disorder, it may not be wise to use fitness tracking devices or devices that count calories.
In general, it would be unrealistic to assert that fitness trackers and monitors cause eating disorders. It is important to remember that correlation does not prove causation. There may be a correlation between eating disorders and the use of fitness trackers, but this does not mean that such devices cause anorexia, bulimia, EDNOS, or binge eating disorder. There are a host of other factors that need to be considered in each individual instance. Therefore, it would be incorrect to claim that fitness trackers cause eating disorders despite the potential for a preoccupation with food and fitness to develop.