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Does Fitbit really make a difference in managing one’s diabetes? Or in helping to lower cholesterol and prevent diabetes? The device’s considerable worldwide popularity can be seen as a testament that it works, but where is the hard proof that the wearable is effective? Researchers in Taiwan tried to offer such evidence with a clinical trial that focused on Fitbit’s role in controlling cholesterol and managing type 2 diabetes. A team from Health2Sync, a Taiwan-based app for managing diabetes, collaborated with local clinics on a trial with 95 participants who had used the Health2Sync app. And the results favor Fitbit’s effectiveness.
The participants in the clinical trial were given Fitbit Inspire HRs. As the HR stands for heart rate, the Inspire HR has several heart-related features that mesh well with diabetes prevention and management. These include real-time heart-rate tracking that identifies resting heart rate and gauges calorie burning during physical activity. If the wearer’s not burning enough calories, the Inspire offers reminders to get in some steps to meet hourly activity goals. The wearable’s trackers automatically recognize exercises, with modes including Run, Bike, and Yoga, and monitor sleep quality and hydration, while a food intake log helps the user to keep an eye on nutrition.
The trial’s participants connected their Fitbits to the Health2Sync app to track their progress over three months, getting exercise reminders, health tips, and real-time analysis from a chatbot. The app lets the user log blood sugar, blood pressure, weight, and other metrics that are important in managing diabetes and the app offers feedback based on these inputs. After three months, the trial’s participants showed overall health improvements that included average decreases in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, fasting blood glucose, and hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) — all three of the factors the trial considered. Some of the participants showed weight loss as well.
Managing type 2 diabetes is one of the most prevalent health needs in the United States; according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 in 10 Americans have diabetes, and about 90% to 95% of those have type 2. Most of these people are over age 45, but cases among young adults, teens, and children are on the rise. But perhaps with the right wearable tech, those numbers can come down.