ONLY ON KOLD: Dangerous APPetite - Tucson News Now

ONLY ON KOLD: Dangerous APPetite

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Most of us either have one ourselves or know someone who does. We're talking about diet apps.

We're doing more than helping you weigh your options, we're uncovering what experts say can be the dangerous side of diet apps.

Type in "diet" in your smart phone app store and the results are overwhelming, each icon, seemingly full of hope.  

Click on any one of these and losing weight can seem as easy as pushing download.  

It can seem like an uphill battle, especially when you're moving fast, but going nowhere.  

"I wanted to lose some weight and I was struggling to figure out how to. I didn't know the first thing about portion control. I didn't know how many calories I was taking in," said Amy Curran. 

We all know shedding pounds is hard to do. So it's easy to be tempted by promises to lose weight quickly and easily. A simple search results in millions of "best diet app" suggestions.

But it's not all about the rating, it's personal and dieticians, like Gael Welter, with UA Campus Health, say safety comes first.

"But here, it says I have been eating 1400 calories a day that is what the app predicted I should eat to lose 2 pounds a week, what's the matter? Well there's so many problems that could have gone on," she said. 

The numbers included in most apps aren't exact and that's the danger. Some apps can under or over estimate your calorie intake because there are factors apps can't take into account. 

Amy Curran swears by her favorite diet app. 

"I began using one of them in particular 'my fitness pal' on a regular basis about 8 months ago, and I've lost 20 pounds," she said. 

She's vigilant, hitting the gym at least 6 days a week, and stays on track by planning her meals and inputting them into the app. But, she doesn't let it take over her life. "If I go over by 50 or 100 calories today I just check it out tomorrow, make sure I get back on track," she said.
Gael says that's the key, use it as a tool to keep you on track but don't rely on it solely.

"There are some people that when they start counting calories when they're more aware of what they're eating, they're obsessive, critical voices kick in and they'll kind of use it against themselves," she said. 

If a person becomes obsessive, Welter says those critical voices can be dangerous causing depression and guilt if the numbers don't add up at the end of the day.

Those apps are not very good for those people.

"My food consumption changed dramatically once I started actually seeing what I was eating," she said. 

Documenting every bite you take has long been a recommendation in losing weight, But diet apps that have filled up our app stores in recent years have a good, and bad side. And Gael says the apps might present false hope.

"Probably, but I wouldn't discourage anyone from doing something they're excited about. There might be a honeymoon period," she said. 

One that may at least provide a jump start, or make you more aware of what you're putting into your body. 

Bottom line is these apps can be helpful, even dieticians say that. But it should not be the only thing you depend on to safely loose weight.

Talk to your doctor and get their input on what your calorie range should be for your body type.

There are reviews out there like tech site Mashable rates its top five.

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