Google Maps Nixes Mini Cupcake Calories Tracking Feature After Backlash

Angelica Greene
October 18, 2017

The California-based company has removed an experimental feature which estimated how many calories its users would burn while walking a route. According to The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD) 30 million people suffer from eating disorders in the USA and they have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. A number of users criticized the feature on social media, calling it judgmental and potentially triggering for those with or recovering from eating disorders.

As TechCrunch reported, Google added the feature to its iOS Maps app about a week ago.

Google confirmed to the Telegraph that the feature, which is being tested in the iOS version of Maps, will end this evening after it had received "strong user feedback". Not only that, but the feature also revealed how many pink "mini cupcakes" in equivalent calories they would burn.

"If they're bombarded with calorie counts everywhere they go. if they're not ready for that, they might not have their tools, their coping mechanisms, to be able to deal with those triggers", he said. Google would estimate how many calories and mini cupcakes someone would burn and display the info alongside the suggested route on the map as well as at the top of the step-by-step directions.

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Some users were especially upset that the app used mini cupcakes to put the burned calories into perspective, framing food as a reward for exercise, or exercise as a prerequisite for food.

Interestingly, prior to the outcry, many on digital health Twitter were applauding the move as one that could demonstrate some of the prevailing ideas in the space about behavior change - namely that subtle nudges from the tools consumers already use are an effective motivational strategy.

The Google app keeps you in the know about the things you care about. "Now you can visit these places-along with many other planets and moons-in Google Maps right from your computer".

Other reports by GizPress

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