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Google to remove experimental calorie counter from Maps following user backlash

Google to remove experimental calorie counter from Maps following user backlash

With the new feature, users saw a pink cupcake icon that automatically showed them how many calories they would burn if they walked to their destination. A Google rep told TechCrunch that the decision was "based on strong user feedback" and the calorie estimator will no longer appear in Google Maps for iOS starting this evening. One of the main complaints was that the feature could be harmful for users dealing with eating disorders, as calorie-counting is a controversial practice in the nutrition world, and some have argued that a fixation on numbers can lead to an unhealthy obsession. "One mini cupcake is around 110 calories".

Google is ditching a planned feature for Maps following criticism on social media.

"This walk burns around 313 Calories - that's nearly 3 mini cupcakes", a message within the app's walking directions read, according to CNN. "The average person burns 90 Calories by walking 1 mile". She also wrote: "Do they realize how extremely triggering something like this is for ppl who have had eating disorders?"




While Google's introduction of the feature was a little tone-deaf, the kneejerk withdrawal strikes me as a bit of a shame overall: as an opt-in feature, I feel this would likely have been welcomed by plenty of people who know that the auto is tempting and want an incentive to be more active. However, the problem is that nobody has said what an average person should look like.

In addition to the potentially harmful side effects of the feature, as the Washington Post points out, Google's measurements of both calories burned and calories per cupcake were questionable.

The feature was experimental during its time, and while it is possible to see the appeal, the feature wasn't received well by some users. Additionally, the app doesn't take into account a user's personal health information, in the least height and weight, to calculate the calories that would be burned.

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