National Institutes of Health asks Fitbit users to share data

The National Institutes of Health and Fitbit are encouraging users of the activity technology to supply data to find linkages between health and personal activity data

NIH and Fitbit—a vendor of wearable technology –want Fitbit users to sync their Fitbit accounts to help researchers find insights into relationships between health indicators that include physical activity, heart rate, sleep patterns and health outcomes.

Data from Fitbit users will support one of the largest precision medicine studies by building diverse data sets for research. Fitbit is the first wearable to be used in the project, but others will be included.

The NIH collaboration with Fitbit supports the agency’s All of Us research program.

“Collecting real-world, real-time data through digital technologies will become a fundamental part of the program,” says Eric Dishman, director of the All of Us program. “This information in combination with many other data types will give us an unprecedented ability to better understand the impact of lifestyle and environment on health outcomes and develop better strategies for keeping people healthy in a very precise, individualized way.”

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Fitbit devices are the most commonly used activity tracking device mentioned in biomedical research; more than 675 published studies have used Fitbit.

The All of Us program also welcomes health information from individuals not using Fitbit or other devices. Persons without devices who wish to participate in data collection can manually add information, such as weight, water intake, meals and other health indicators by logging into the All of Us participant portal at JoinAllofUs.org.

In 2019, the All of Us program will expand via a study that Scripps Research Translational Institute will conduct, with as many as 10,000 Fitbits being distributed to participants randomly invited to take part. The goal of this second program is to generate a data set to explore relationships between health indicators and critical health outcomes that will be captured. Other health indicators that can be captured via Fitbit apps and devices include diabetes, cardiovascular health, oncology, mental health and post-surgery, among others.

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