Belle Gibson supporters demand refunds for app, recipe book

Angry customers who purchased Belle Gibson's healthy lifestyle food app and recipe book are demanding refunds amid claims she may have fabricated her cancer survival story to help develop a business.

Ms Gibson, who founded The Whole Pantry app, which is marketed as the world's first health, wellness and lifestyle app and has been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times, is also facing claims she failed to deliver on promised donations to several charities.

The 26-year-old built her wellness empire on the basis of having survived brain cancer for five years and and other life-threatening cancers, shunning traditional medicine in favour of wholefood and natural remedies.

In 2013, she launched an Instagram blog, introducing herself as a young mother who had moved from Perth to Melbourne in mid-2009 to seek medical treatment for a 'malignant, terminal form of brain cancer'.

She quickly developed a global band of followers as she documented her cancer journey, and repeatedly claimed a natural and holistic approach had cured her of the insidious disease.

Ms Gibson went onto develop the app, The Whole Pantry, which promotes natural therapies, healthy eating and a wholesome lifestyle, and has reportedly been downloaded 300,000 times at $3.79.

Doubt has been cast on the veracity of health and wellness blogger Belle Gibson's cancer claims. Photo: Instagram

It's success inspired the cook book, which promotes several recipes that Ms Gibson declared had helped her overcome cancer.

However, the veracity of her claims were called into question following an investigation by the Australian, which revealed serious inadequacies in her story.

In July last year, Ms Gibson told her followers she had been diagnosed with cancer of the liver, spleen, blood and uterus, but according to a report in the Australian this week, she now says it is possible the diagnosis may have been a mistake.

Fairfax reports The Whole Pantry's release in Europe and the US next month is now in doubt, with major US publisher Simon & Schuster investigating the claims.

Health and wellness blogger Belle Gibson pictured her with recipe book, The Whole Pantry, which features 'cancer combating' recipes. Photo: Instagram

Penguin publishing house and Apple are heavily invested in the brand, according to Fairfax.

The tech giant apparently flew Ms Gibson to the US in secret to work in secret on the new Apple Watch, while the popular book was marketed off her cancer survival story and charitable donations.

Penguin yesterday admitted it did not have proof of Ms Gibson's illness before it published the book in 'good faith'.

Customers who bought the book and downloaded the app have also demanded refunds after doubts surfaced about Ms Gibson's diagnosis.

Many have taken to social media to vent their anger and disappointment.

Lisa Forrester wrote on The Whole Pantry Facebook page: "I bought your app. I bought your cookbook. I read about you in Marie Claire. I watched you on various TV shows. I followed you on Instagram. I rooted for you and felt sad for you when you posted about your cancer spreading. And now I am just appalled. You deserve to pay back every cent."

The Whole Pantry has not commented on the claims Belle Gibson embellished her cancer story.

The company responded to accusations it withheld charitable donations, releasing a statement on Facebook yesterday saying 'it bit off more than it could chew and struggled with juggling internal and external priorities with little staff'.

Consumer Affairs has confirmed its investigating Belle Gibson who claims business proceeds have been donated to various charities yet neither her nor her companies are registered fundraisers in Victoria.

On Tuesday, it is believed Victoria Police also visited her home and were greeted by her partner who reportedly claimed Ms Gibson had been 'misrepresented' by the media.

Ms Gibson is yet to personally address the claims.

News break – March 12