Converging Tracks

Keeping Track of Activity Trackers

On many levels, the phenomenon of activity trackers can be quite a challenge to track. Presenting yesterday to the Roundtable on Obesity Solutions of the Institute of Medicine, Gary Bennett of Duke University and Kimberly Warner of Fitbit presented a compelling picture for the potential of this technology. Despite the fact that the data on outcomes with commercial activity tracking devices remains incomplete, digital health technology has already been shown to extend the results that interpersonal interventions can achieve by themselves.

Infographic: Fitbit Retains Wearables Market Lead | StatistaFor example, a randomized, controlled study of mobile technology and telephone coaching found incremental effectiveness when it was added to a standard behavioral intervention. However, there’s little evidence that digital interventions deliver much efficacy by themselves.

In a systematic review, Kelly Evanson and colleagues found reasonable validity and reliability for consumer activity trackers — especially for some models produced by Fitbit. Even after the highly publicized entry of the Apple Watch, Fitbit remains the market share leader for consumer activity tracking technologies.

Much will change in the coming year. Fitness professionals worldwide see activity tracking technology as being the dominant trend that will shape 2016. Apple is due to introduce a second-generation smartwatch in the first half of 2016. And thus investors are worried that Fitbit might not prevail in the in the face of such intense competition.

Regardless of which company wins this race to innovate, we can expect that consumers will benefit most.

Click here to read more about fitness trackers from CES 2016.

Converging Tracks, photograph © Anjan Chatterjee / flickr

Subscribe by email to follow the accumulating evidence and observations that shape our view of health, obesity, and policy.


January 12, 2016

2 Responses to “Keeping Track of Activity Trackers”

  1. January 12, 2016 at 2:16 pm, Allen Browne said:

    No silver bullet but lots of necessary/useful pieces to the puzzle.

    • January 12, 2016 at 3:58 pm, Ted said:

      Value depends on quality and whether it’s built on an evidence-based foundation. Thanks, Allen.