Calorific, a new weight-management app developed by WorkSmart Labs, is not the first smartphone program for dieters. But it does score points for using sketchy science that’s unlikely to make anyone healthier.
Rather than rating foods with a precise calorie count, Calorific encourages users to log their food intake and then scold them if the app’s developers disagree with their choices. Foods are grouped into three broad categories: green (“great”) for fruits and vegetables; yellow (“OK”) for lean proteins, grains, and dairy; and red (“bad”) for meats and snacks. At the end of the day, dieters are given a pie chart to show how much of their diet was “great” and how the rest didn’t pass muster.
We can’t be the only ones to see the problem here.
First of all, if you were to follow a strict vegan (or even “fruitarian”) diet by eating nothing but fruits and vegetables, your pie chart would be 100-percent green but likely you wouldn't be getting much in the way of iron, calcium, vitamin B12, vitamin D, zinc, protein, or healthy fats. Yet if you were to get your iron, B vitamins, zinc, and protein through red meat, you’re warned that your food choice “has been proven to be bad for the heart and cause chronic inflammation.” Which is hardly the case.
Furthermore, the app provides no guidance on meeting the minimum daily recommended allowances for any nutrients. How "great" can that be for your health?
This app seems right up the alley of food cops, who have spent a lot of energy advocating a “traffic light” food-labeling system modeled after one used in Great Britain. Yet that approach also doesn’t take into account that there is no one perfect food, and that dietary variety and moderation are the best ways to balance adequate nutrition with enjoyment of food.
If there’s a silver lining, it’s that Calorific is free to download. But don’t be surprised if you get what you pay for.