Is wearable technology the key to a healthier Britain?

Monday, June 19, 2017

Waistlines across Britain are continuing to expand, with 27% of the population are now clinically obese and another 36% are overweight. It is clear that obesity is a serious issue that is affecting the UK; in fact it is often referred to as a ‘Global Epidemic’. It is responsible for at least one in ten deaths and costs the NHS £5.1 billion each year. Factors such as little exercise or poor diet are often blamed as the cause for piling on the pounds.  

Did you know that the average Briton only walks or runs 12.9 miles a week? Ideally we’re supposed to walk around 70,000 steps a week, that’s around 35 miles.

A recent survey found that wearable technology may be the answer to the health issues facing modern Britain.

Impact of health technology

 

The study of over 2,000 Britons examined how health technology such as smartphone apps or fitness trackers is having an impact on our health.

It found that health technology is key driver in encouraging us to be more active. In fact the study found that one in ten of us admitted that using more fitness devices had the biggest and the most positive impact on their health in the last year.

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Is wearable technology as effective as some have suggested?

From Fitbits to sleep monitors, wearable technology has become increasingly popular and a part of our everyday lives. According to market research firm Mintel, in 2017, around four million fitness trackers had been sold in the UK alone.

Research in 2016 found that fitness trackers were effective in improving the fitness levels of participants but didn’t directly show evidence of improving their health.

Professor Eric from Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore said:

“Over the course of the year-long study, volunteers who wore the activity trackers recorded no change in their step count but moderately increased their amount of aerobic activity by an average of 16 minutes per week."

He continued:

“However, we found no evidence that the device promoted weight loss or improved blood pressure or cardiorespiratory fitness, either with or without financial incentives.”

Fitbit's research 

Following this study, wearable technology giant Fitbit, released a statement regarding its own studies. The research conducted by Fitbit found positive data around those using fitness devices:

“A three-year study found that people using both the Fitbit Aria, and a Fitbit tracker doubled their weight loss. Another result included the Kimberly Clarke Live Well Challenge that resulted in a total loss of 4,998lbs from 3,400 participants.” (Digital Health Age, 2017)

Health-on-Line customer, Fiona said:

“My Fitbit has definitely been useful in me realising how much more exercise I need to put in as part of my daily routine, however, I haven’t used it over a long period of time as there are some parts of my lifestyle I simply cannot change, such as work.

"What I would prefer is something that tells me if I do this, what would the impact on my health be so I have something tangible to aim towards.”

There are many positives as well as negatives surrounding wearable devices and whether it has a direct impact on our health.

Although it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it has certainly been proven that it can motivate us to stay healthy and be more active which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

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