Fitbit's activity data is a feature known to predict the changes in a user's blood sugar. This is a very useful feature for those with prediabetes, which is a condition that affects 1 in 3 adults in the United States.
A new study shows that the feature is a strategy made by tech companies in their effort to create diabetes technology and add them into their products.
Activity Data from Wearables are Effective
Jessilyn Dunn, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Duke University, said that more physical activities and more movement can lead to better health. Better health is one of the major factors behind better glycemic control.
Users with prediabetes have higher blood sugar levels. This places them at risk of developing diabetes, according to The Verge.
However, most tools can't say if a user with prediabetes will eventually develop diabetes in the future, according to Mitesh Patel, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and the author of the study.
Patel said that there are no good near-term models that will say which user with a high blood sugar level will get diabetes and which of the users will eventually get better.
In the latest study published in NPJ Digital Medicine, Patel's team created models that would use a wearable's activity data gathered from either the user's waist or the user's wrist in order to predict the changes in average blood sugar and 5% showed improved blood sugar levels.
The study lasted for 6 months, and the team found out that they were able to make accurate predictions and the predictions were even more accurate with the help of the data collected from the devices worn on the user's wrist.
Patel added that they are aware that those who are more active have better control of their blood sugar levels, and those who are less active have the worse control.
However, there are other patterns in the daily information log that they are getting, and they need to consider the steps that the user makes daily, and whether they are fast or slow, in order to get a more accurate prediction.
Since the wearables can get additional data, it can also give a deeper look at how activity drives the changes in a user's blood sugar level.
Predicting Blood Glucose Levels
Past studies have also found out that data from wearable devices like Fitbit can help track and predict a user's blood glucose levels.
However, despite those connections, activity and other wearable data is still only a substitute for blood sugar level.
It is still important for users to directly monitor the blood sugar level via blood testing methods until there is more evidence to show that the connections are strong enough to make treatment decisions.
The new study by Patel had only 200 participants and they only studied those with prediabetes, more work would be needed in order to test the connection of the wearable to the health of the participant and there should also be participants at different levels of health.
Currently, tech companies are looking for ways to have better blood sugar management and wants to add these features to their future devices like smartwatches and smart rings, according to USA Today.
Apple has been working on noninvasive glucose monitoring for years, while Fitbit had partnered up with diabetes tech company LifeScan. Meanwhile, a new smart ring by Fitbit is looking to blood sugar monitoring as a future goal.
This article is owned by Tech Times
Written by Sophie Webster