Behavior Change, Health Systems, Researchers | By | 03/19/21

2020 Year in Review: Proven Impact of Fitbit Devices and Services on Health Behaviors and Outcomes

We have long believed that Fitbit devices and services have a positive impact on the health behaviors and outcomes of our users. Our research has shown that users who participate in challenges with friends or family in the Fitbit app take an average of 2,000 more steps per day. It has also shown that new Fitbit users who sleep less than 6 hours a night get an average of 10 minutes more per night after three months of use.* And 73% of Fitbit users with a weight loss goal on Fitbit lose weight within the first six months of tracking.** There are over 900 independent studies that have been conducted using Fitbit devices, making Fitbit the most used wearable device in research. Getting more steps and losing weight can have profound effects on health, including decreasing the risk of chronic disease and death, and may even improve cancer outcomes and decrease the risk of recurrence.

While 2020 was a challenging and unprecedented year for all in so many ways, it also proved an exciting year for further proving the impact of Fitbit, above and beyond the findings stated above. An independent systematic review and meta-analysis revealed that health and wellness interventions that include Fitbit devices achieve better outcomes, including steps, moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, and weight loss. So not only can Fitbit help users to improve their health behaviors and outcomes, but, if you add Fitbit to other interventions, research shows that it can enhance the impact of those interventions. This finding isn’t limited to physical activity and weight loss, though. A recent clinical trial involving users of the Health2Sync app, the leading diabetes app in Japan and Taiwan, demonstrated that adding Fitbit to a diabetes intervention can lead to further improvements in fasting blood sugar, hemoglobin A1c, and LDL cholesterol. This finding reinforces the importance that lifestyle behaviors have on chronic diseases such as type II diabetes, hypertension and hypercholesterolemia. and proves that Fitbit can play an important role in helping battle the chronic disease epidemic. 

Although the two studies mentioned above addressed the impact of Fitbit devices and the standard Fitbit app, Fitbit has been investing in enhanced behavior change support services. In 2019, it launched Fitbit Premium and in 2020, Fitbit Premium + Health Coaching. Fitbit Premium provides users with deeper analysis of their data and with additional insights and guidance to help them meet their goals. Fitbit Premium + Health Coaching builds on that offering and also provides a personal human health coach through the Fitbit chat feature and the ability to receive personalized action plans.

In 2020, Fitbit conducted a randomized controlled trial to investigate the added impact that Fitbit Premium + Health Coaching has on user behaviors and outcomes, above and beyond having a Fitbit device and using the standard Fitbit app. The trial revealed that users who used Fitbit Premium + Health Coaching increased their activity (steps and active minutes) more, decreased their resting heart rate more, and decreased their weight more (more than twice as much weight loss, on average) than those using the standard Fitbit app alone. Participants in the Premium + Health Coaching group reported greater motivation and confidence, compared to the study participants using the standard Fitbit app alone, for improving every health behavior and outcome that was studied. This included activity, nutrition, sleep, and stress management as well as weight, body shape and size, and overall health. This new offering gives Fitbit users the option to receive even greater support and greater success in their journeys to optimize their health.

While these studies from 2020 were outstanding, 2021 is already poised to advance the impact of Fitbit even further. Fitbit continues to make advances in its features to support users in optimizing activity, nutrition, sleep, and stress management, and a full year randomized controlled trial in 2021, in collaboration with UMass Memorial Health Care, will measure the impact of the full suite of Fitbit services, not just on these health behaviors, but also on the impact on hemoglobin A1c, blood pressure, cholesterol, weight as well as healthcare costs. Fitbit was awarded a Right Care 4 You grant from the Massachusetts eHealth Institute at the  MassTech Collaborative to support this study, which aims to be one of the most rigorous and comprehensive digital health studies to date. 

*Based on thousands of aggregated Fitbit user sleep data globally, Q2 2019.**Based on aggregated and anonymous Fitbit user data between Jan 1, 2014 – Oct 15 2018. % of Fitbit users who weigh themselves at least once a week who lost weight in the first six months of weight tracking by having a weight loss goal.

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