A controversial app appearing to mock sufferers of anorexia has been pulled from Amazon after it generated complaints online and eating disorder campaigners labelled it "horrific".
‘Rescue the Anorexic Girl’, marketed by SmartTouchmedia, was based on the ‘whack-a-mole’ formula and encouraged players to throw food at a cartoon girl struggling with the mental health disorder.
Previously sold on Amazon and Android platforms, the app’s promotional blurb read: “It’s your time to become a real hero with this new amusing game Rescue The Anorexia Girl!
“You know, heroes are not just superheroes, flying in the skies, throwing rocks and fighting villains with supernatural powers. Anyone can be a hero, if he is willing to help others from the bottom of his heart. Start saving the day now!”
If players miss the girl, she starts to lose weight and eventually ‘dies’.
Eating disorder charity Anorexia & Bulimia Care (ABC) condemned the app, labelling it “horrific”.
Imogen Smith, a spokesperson for the charity, told The Independent: “We are horrified to learn of Amazon’s app which actively encourages people to make fun of those struggling with life threatening eating disorders.”
She continued that the app “fuels the dangerous misconceptions” and “stigma” surrounding eating disorders.
"Throwing food at a person struggling with anorexia nervosa, who has a serious disabling fear of food in order to make them well suggests that anorexia is a fad and self-inflicted and not a complex psychological illness,” Ms Smith added.
The app’s instructions add: “Anorexia is a serious disease and fatal if not cured in time. When you have anorexia, the desire to lose weight becomes more important than anything else.”
It continued: “For example a girl from new Rescue The Anorexia Girl game has started to renounce meals and even tasty cakes cannot save the situation.”
Anorexia Nervosa is the leading cause of mental health related deaths with around 1.6 million people diagnosed with an eating disorder
Young people, predominantly aged between 14 and 25, are most at risk. Less than 50 per cent of survivors fully recover from their illness, with 20 per cent remaining chronically ill.
A spokesperson for Amazon told The Independent: “All apps in the Amazon Appstore must adhere to our content guidelines and the app in question is no longer available from our store.”
SmartTouchMedia did not responded to requests for comment.