Weight Tools Lead Boom in Personal Health Tracking

More people than ever are using smartphones, computers, and other devices as part of a personal health tracking routine, according to a recent survey. Fully 60% of U.S. adults say they track their weight, diet, or exercise routine.

“The explosion of mobile devices means that more Americans have an opportunity to start tracking health data in an organized way,” said Susannah Fox, an associate director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project, who conducted the survey. Many of the people surveyed said the experience had changed their overall approach to health.  And among those tracking their health, 21% are using some form of technology to do it.

Companies are responding to this desire for data. According to Matthew Holt, co-chairman of Health 2.0, a market intelligence project that keeps track of health technology companies, more than 500 companies are now making health tracking tools, up 35% versus a year ago. And weight is not the only thing these health trackers are monitoring. People are also using technology to track diabetes, memory, sleep, and mental sharpness.

The Pew survey found most people with chronic conditions said that tracking had led them to ask a doctor new questions, led them to seek a second opinion, or influenced their treatment decisions. Mr. Holt said health tracking products and services companies formed the fastest growing category among the 2,100 health technology he monitors.

However, the same survey showed that 49% of trackers keep track of important information in their heads, and another 34% of those surveyed said they keep a notebook which they use to track data,

Click here to read more in the New York Times and here to read more about the Pew Internet and American Life Project survey.

Heart Rate Monitor image © Greg L. / Wikimedia

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