8/10/2019

Fitbit fanaticism: fact or fake news?

"Somewhat surprisingly, given all the hype, the authors found “there was little indication that wearable devices provide a benefit for health outcomes.” Of the six studies meeting the strict criteria required to assess causal relationships, “only one study showed a significant reduction in weight loss among participants who used wearable devices. No significant reduction was discovered in cholesterol or blood pressure.” They concluded that “wearable devices play an active role as a facilitator in motivating and accelerating physical activity but current data do not suggest other consistent health benefits.”

To paraphrase Robert Solow, this study might lead one to conclude that we are perhaps observing emerging evidence of an e-health productivity paradox: that is, we see Fitbits everywhere but in the health status improvement data. This potentially has significant policy implications, as the sums invested in subsidizing them may have had more effect if applied somewhere else in the health sector. It also draws into question the accuracy of the high expectations of contributions from e-health applications used to bolster policies for subsidizing high-speed internet connections (both mobile and fixed-line)."