"It's definitely been a journey": A qualitative study on how women with eating disorders use weight loss apps

Elizabeth V. Eikey, Madhu C. Reddy

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

25 Scopus citations

Abstract

Technology is often viewed as either positive or negative. On one hand, in HCI, weight loss apps are usually seen as a positive influence on users. From the sociocultural perspective, on the other hand, media and technology negatively impact body satisfaction and contribute to eating disorders; however, these studies fail to include weight loss apps. While these apps can be beneficial to users, they can also have negative effects on users with eating disorder behaviors. Yet few research studies have looked at weight loss apps in relation to eating disorders. In order to fill this gap, we conducted interviews with 16 women with a history of eating disorders who use(d) weight loss apps. While our findings suggest these apps can contribute to and exacerbate eating disorder behaviors, they also reveal a more complex picture of app usage. Women's use and perceptions of weight loss apps shift as they experience life and move to and from stages of change. This research troubles the binary view of technology and emphasizes the importance of looking at technology use as a dynamic process. Our study contributes to our understanding of weight loss app design.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCHI 2017 - Proceedings of the 2017 ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
Subtitle of host publicationExplore, Innovate, Inspire
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Pages642-654
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781450346559
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2 2017
Event2017 ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2017 - Denver, United States
Duration: May 6 2017May 11 2017

Publication series

NameConference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Proceedings
Volume2017-May

Other

Other2017 ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2017
CountryUnited States
CityDenver
Period5/6/175/11/17

Keywords

  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Bulimia nervosa
  • Eating disorders
  • Food journal
  • Mobile applications
  • Persuasive
  • Qualitative
  • Quantified self
  • Self-tracking
  • Weight loss apps

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design

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  • Cite this

    Eikey, E. V., & Reddy, M. C. (2017). "It's definitely been a journey": A qualitative study on how women with eating disorders use weight loss apps. In CHI 2017 - Proceedings of the 2017 ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems: Explore, Innovate, Inspire (pp. 642-654). (Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Proceedings; Vol. 2017-May). Association for Computing Machinery. https://doi.org/10.1145/3025453.3025591