If you're an iPhone user, you may have noticed a new feature pop up in Google Maps recently. The app was beta testing a calorie counting feature, which would tell users how many mini cupcakes they'd burn off by choosing to walk instead of drive, BuzzFeed reports.
But after major backlash on the feature from iPhone users who were among the testing group, Google has decided not to roll it out nationwide.
Many of those who saw the calorie counter were angry to see Google forcing people to think about calories (as people noted, there was no way to turn the feature off), especially since calorie counting is often a sign of disordered eating.
What's worse, people pointed out, was that the feature then equated the distance a person would be walking with the approximate number of mini cupcakes they would burn off — furthering the idea that treats like cupcakes should only be eaten if you're willing to do the work to negate them.
There are several problems with a suggestion like this. First that the calorie counts likely wouldn't even be accurate for most people, given that they were calculated based on general information and don't take into account a specific person's body or health history.
But that's besides the point, because Google shouldn't be showing anyone calorie counting information even if they could get it 100% accurate. Looking at calorie information compared to physical activity like walking can be dangerous, especially for people who have eating disorders.
There's a reason that Google chose to show how many cupcakes you'd burn as opposed to say, garden salads. As we grow up, we learn that some foods are "good" and others are "bad." And the idea that a cupcake is a bad food that requires extra work at the gym or a walk instead of a drive only strengthens our complicated feelings about food and our bodies.
The Google Maps feature perpetuated these negative ideas about food and fitness and nutrition. Luckily, the company seems to have been receptive to its users' feedback and has removed the feature from the app.
If you are struggling with an eating disorder and are in need of support, please call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. For a 24-hour crisis line, text “NEDA” to 741741.
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