A new app that lets users look skinnier in "selfie" photos is raising concerns about health and body-image issues.
SkinneePix, for iPhone and Android devices, says it can trim 2-7kg of virtual fat for a slimmer selfie look.
"Cameras add additional weight to photos and when you're taking a selfie you're also dealing with bad lighting, angles, close-ups and a lot of other factors that make people complain that the photo isn't an accurate representation of themselves," said Susan Green, co-founder of Pretty Smart Women, the company, based in Phoenix, in the US state of Arizona, that created the app.
It was designed to help overweight adults show a leaner version of themselves, but Robin Phillips, the company's other co-founder, said the app had also motivated people to lose weight.
"It's a good reminder to get off the couch, turn the TV off, and go for a walk," she said.
Some critics fear the US$1.99 app, which only works on single head shots, could encourage an unhealthy body image.
Lauren Dickson, a social worker in the eating disorders and addiction clinic at the Centre of Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, said the app was one of many factors that could contribute to a young adult developing an eating disorder.
"The media obviously has some effect on people developing eating disorders, but it's not the only variable. It's one of many factors," she said in an interview.
"The majority of young girls wouldn't develop an eating disorder because of an app like this, but some might be more vulnerable and it could contribute," Dickson added.
Green said the virtual weight loss in the app was capped at 7kg and the app focused only on the face, not the entire body.