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Meet Carrot, The Judgmental Calorie App That Insults You Into Losing Weight

Constant positive reinforcement can get pretty boring.

“Greetings, glutinous humans,” says Carrot, the sarcastic talking robot behind Carrot Hunger, a new calorie-counting app. “I’ve watched your kind indiscriminately stuff your chubby faces for far too long.”

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Unlike kinder, gentler weight loss apps, Carrot mocks and shames you into better behavior. The app is the latest featuring the robot as a bully, following successful–and similarly sarcastic–apps for an alarm clock, a to-do list, and working out.


The apps are funny enough that people tend to stick with them instead of losing interest, says designer Brian Mueller. “I really built these apps to make things that people hate doing, like waking up or losing weight, fun and rewarding,” he explains. “I was just looking for something different, because so many apps out there are super positive all the time, and it just gets kind of boring and same-y if that’s all you’re hearing constantly.”

Each step of the app is designed to entertain, from a setup screen that asks you if you’re male, female, or squirrel (it told me, ‘Error! My sensors show that you’re not cute enough to be a squirrel’), to an avatar that swells to blimp-like proportions if you overindulge. It might be a little harsh, but it will make you laugh.

“When people step on the scale and see that they’ve gained weight, that often ruins their day and makes them depressed,” Mueller says. “Carrot’s humor really turns that around and makes it a much more positive experience because they connect so much with the character that they’re actually motivated to do better the next day. That’s the kind of thing that you don’t see with other boring, dry and lifeless apps out there.”

It’s also designed to be easier to use than similar calorie-counting apps. To look up a particular food, for example, you just have to push a single button and start typing in the name; on other apps, the same process can take four or five tedious steps. The app can also scan bar codes on packaged food. When you eat something, it explains how much you’d have to exercise to work it off.

It also offers the option to cheat: If you really can’t resist that afternoon candy bar, you can pay the app to record the snack without counting it against your daily intake.

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Carrot, who was based on malfunctioning robot characters like HAL from the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, tends to inspire users with its personality. “People really connect to it,” says Mueller. “I’ve gotten a lot of responses from people who feel like they want to impress Carrot, even though it’s just this talking robot. It’s funny how much people have responded to the character.”

The app is available free on the App Store.

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About the author

Adele Peters is a staff writer at Fast Company who focuses on solutions to some of the world's largest problems, from climate change to homelessness. Previously, she worked with GOOD, BioLite, and the Sustainable Products and Solutions program at UC Berkeley.

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