The flip side of Wellness apps

Contrary to popular belief wellness apps are not so wholesome after all.

Apart from the flaw in fundamental definition of wellness, it also brings along security and data privacy issues like other mainstream apps. The question may arise, is this digital equivalent of a wellness Guru really worth it?

There are over 160,000 wellness apps on the App Store. If you’re thinking of adding to that figure then let us break it down for you. Are wellness app really worth it?

Overdiagnose normal feelings


An ensemble of gyroscope, pedometer, and HR monitor cannot tell how a person is feeling. These apps dive in not-so-accurate data curated from the app and the wearables to diagnose users of conditions they might not be having.

This case seems somewhat like Eliza the MIT bot from the 60s. Long before Google or Siri existed, Joseph Weizenbaum introduced the world to Eliza, a therapy bot. The bot was an NLP program which responded to people’s issues with a script prepared by psychologists but people who tested it believed that Eliza understood them.

Provides false sense of achievement

Animation of a hand feeding Sushi with social media branding on it

If you were to refer wellness related studies you’d find that most of the apps are not backed by evidence and other apps are just plain ineffective.

Dietary apps make the user feel as if they are losing weight but in reality, keeping track of the calories is of not much help. A research revealed that out of 2000 health apps, only 3-4 % of the apps gave scientifically proven results.

Sets unrealistic goals for users

people exercising in front of tv screens

In a competitive spirit users often attach their self worth with unrealistic goals defined for them by wellness apps. You should run a mile a day, you should eat less & drink more, you should walk in short strides, you should sleep less, et al.

Are these apps improving your lifestyle or telling you how to live? Is it really healthy to constantly question every little life choice you make?

Wellness apps claim that they have the goals uniquely tailored for each user. Are they really? A person who is fit but has asthma, can’t sprint 500 Meters the first week of training. Failing to do so, they’ll compare their health stats with other people. People with healthy set of lungs.

Encourages self-destructive behaviour

woman using her phone while running

Wellness apps are a dime a dozen and without any clinical approval, they’re just apps with lofty claims to make people’s lives better. To stand out from the crowd, some apps might even go as far to provide therapeutic interventions for the people who need real therapy.

According to American psychiatric association, there are documented cases of apps that recommend bipolar people to drink alcohol when manic.

Wrap up

Like other new and shiny things, the benefits of the wellness apps are balanced by some flaws. Flaws that may encourage bi-polar people to have a couple of lagers as a remedy.

Whether you’re using or building one of these apps, define your own wellness or your user’s wellness before diving in the development of one.

It’s surprisingly easy to get it wrong. Let us know what you think about wellness apps and if you want to talk about getting it right, then drop us a mail here.


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