Chapters five and six from Self-Tracking have left me with some concerns about the future. As we try to combat problems like obesity, Type II diabetes, and inactivity, we rely on new methods of self-tracking. Whether it’s a food logging app like MyFitnessPal or a wearable device like FitBit, we want new, interactive ways to track our data and, ideally, improve our health. Companies like MyFitnessPal, Garmin, FitBit, Google Fit, etc. are able to capitalize on problems that is not economic: health and fitness. They advertise a lifestyle rather than a product. That is to say, FitBit has particularly become a fashion statement in addition to wearable proof of a commitment to health. This marketing strategy is not necessarily a bad thing, although it does leave a some members of the population vulnerable. Those who put a lot of stock into these products may not realize just how much self-motivation goes into making full use of these products. Without the external effort on the consumers end, the products and apps are useless. Additionally, users may be eager to track as much of their data as possible. They may not think twice before compiling all of their most personal health data into one app. This aggregation of data is priceless for the companies who produce the apps. They may use the data within their own business or they may sell it to a third party. This is where data sharing becomes murky. It is likely that if a consumer ate at McDonald’s four times a week for the past seven months, they may want to safe-guard that information. However, if they logged their food intake on MyFitnessPal, the app might sell this data to the user’s insurance company. This could affect the user’s insurance premium or possibly restrict coverage entirely.

 

Questions:

Should laws around insurance policies be altered with the new age of self-tracking devices (i.e., insurance companies can only use data from external sources if they have the user’s consent)?

How will self-tracking apps and devices affect the number of jobs in professions like dietetics, personal training, and life-coaching?

 

Source: Neff, Gina, and Dawn Nafus. Self-tracking. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2016. Print.

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