Apple to donate 1,000 Apple Watches to aid binge eating study

Posted:
in General Discussion edited October 2018
Together with a separate logging app, Apple Watches will be used to look for biological changes during episodes of uncontrollable eating.

Apple Watch and iPhone app for binge eating study


Apple is donating 1,000 Apple Watches to a new research study into overeating being and bulimia nervosa conducted by the University of North Carolina, reports CNBC.

The Binge Eating Genetics Initiative, or BINGE, is looking for biological changes brought on by either rapid and excessive eating, or by subsequently over-exercising or purging. In a month-long study, researchers will examine whether Apple Watch's heart rate sensor can detect physical changes associated with these symptoms.

According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, at least 30 million Americans suffer from an eating disorder. And every 62 minutes, at least one person dies as a direct result of it.

Cynthia M. Bulik, Ph.D.
Cynthia M. Bulik, Ph.D.


Cynthia Bulik is one of the researchers behind BEGIN and author of Binge Control: A Compact Recovery Guide. She will be recruiting 1,000 volunteers, all aged 18 or over, who have a history of bulimia nervosa or binge eating disorder.

"We need to collect data from a whole lot of people to see what it looks like," said Bulik. "We want to know if it has a biological and behavioral signature."

Alongside the health data and specifically heart rate information automatically collected by the Apple Watch, volunteers in the program will have a Watch and iOS app called Recovery Record.

Detail from app Recovery Record


The app is for volunteers on the study to record detailed information about their eating patterns and how they feel about that eating. An Apple Watch companion app provides a quick way to record feelings and behaviors.

Recovery Record CEO Jenna Tregarthen said, "We're interested to find out what happens in the time period leading up to the binge and the purge. And we hope we can anticipate and ultimately change the course of that episode."

Participants who take part in the study will also receive tests for genetics and bodily bacteria, examinations that seek to expose the underlying cause of the disease, the report said.

The UNC research is just the latest of many health-related studies that have deployed Apple Watch to provide continuous medical data from patients or volunteers.

The University of California used the Apple Watch last year to research atrial fibrillation, a common heart arrhythmia that can lead to strokes. This study learned that Apple Watch could then detect serious heart conditions with 97 percent accuracy.

That study was conducted in partnership with an app called Cardiogram, and in August 2018, the app's developer Brandon Ballinger told AppleInsider how health studies were increasingly using the Apple Watch as a research tool. He said that based on data collected by the app, the average Apple Watch user is "more likely than the general population to manage a chronic health condition like sleep apnea, hypertension, diabetes or atrial fibrillation."

Reportedly, it is data like this that helped Apple gain FDA approval for its new Apple Watch ECG feature.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 15
    irelandireland Posts: 17,521member
    Childhood trauma... uses food to protect certain feelings from being seen. Boom.
    icoco3racerhomie3
  • Reply 2 of 15
    Series 4?

    And what happens when the program ends? Apple come to collect the watch back?
  • Reply 3 of 15
    drfwdrfw Posts: 12member
    This is very cool, always good to see some positive news for once! 
    repressthiswatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 15
    So the heart rate sensor is why this is a Watch study? I’m assuming you could just as easily record behavioral information via your iPhone.
  • Reply 5 of 15
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 3,568member
    So the heart rate sensor is why this is a Watch study? I’m assuming you could just as easily record behavioral information via your iPhone.
    It could be either:
    "An Apple Watch companion app provides a quick way to record feelings and behaviors."
    (But apparently both the iPhone and the Apple Watch can be used.)

    The bigger picture is:   Epidemiologic research has always been badly hampered by having to rely on recall and questionnaires as in "What did you eat last week?"  Not only is that known to be inaccurate but it doesn't account for changing patterns -- which happen regularly outside of a laboratory setting.

    And, the result is that medical operations and pharmaceutical corporations can disparage lifestyle interventions such as diet or exercise and claim that only their pill or their procedure have been "proven effective'.  (And, in healthcare, it is commonly assumed that until something is proven to be true that it is not true -- rather than simply unproven)

    But now:   The iPhone and the Apple Watch can combine to provide accurate, on going and real time collection of both objective data (heart rate) and subjective data (how I feel).  That could shake the healthcare system to its roots. 

    For example:  It is increasingly accepted that 80% of our $3 Triillion/year of healthcare spending goes to treat chronic diseases of which 50-80% are caused by unhealthy lifestyles.  So far, the healthcare industry has managed to disparage and block all attempts at lifestyle medicine and claim that the only path to health is by buying their pills and procedures.  (Yes, they give lip service to lifestyle medicine, but that's all).

    The iPhone and Apple Watch could enable the quality research needed to expose the Big Lie of the healthcare industry, restore Americans to the health they deserve and save literally trillions of dollars.

    repressthislolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 15
    Those are all mental problems. Not clear what a Watch is supposed to do for the mentally ill.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 15
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,555member
    Those are all mental problems. Not clear what a Watch is supposed to do for the mentally ill.
    Try reading the article. 

    They’re trying using the watch to study it, not cure it. 
    repressthislolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 15
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member
    One question I have in life is why some people seem to have a high degree of free will/self discipline and others are just leaves on the wind. Heart rate is not the first place I would start to look for an answer, but more data of any kind can't hurt!
    lolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 15
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 3,568member
    Those are all mental problems. Not clear what a Watch is supposed to do for the mentally ill.
    They are helping to gather information to aid in the research needed to develop effective treatments.

    Even intractable mental illnesses like schizophrenia respond to treatment.  In those, it may not impact the underlying brain physiology, but it can help the person deal with it and manage it more effectively for a higher quality and more functional life.
    repressthislolliver
  • Reply 10 of 15
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 3,568member
    ascii said:
    One question I have in life is why some people seem to have a high degree of free will/self discipline and others are just leaves on the wind. Heart rate is not the first place I would start to look for an answer, but more data of any kind can't hurt!
    Aspergians tend to have ultra high levels of focus, discipline and concentration.
    Those with ADHD tend to be flighty and impulsive -- as well as personable and imaginative.

    They may be at opposite ends of the spectrum, but both can, and have, made meaningful contributions to society.

    But both of those are rooted in inherent brain physiology.   The personality disorders are often simply responses to other traumas and issues.  But typically, they are as intractable as Aspergers and ADHD.

    But, in all cases, the person with proper motivation, acceptance and support can make adjustments to improve their quality of life and functionality.   Hopefully this study will contribute to the knowledge base and improve the support for those unfortunates so they can improve their lives.
    asciirepressthisMacPro
  • Reply 11 of 15
    macguimacgui Posts: 1,062member
    ireland said:
    Childhood trauma... uses food to protect certain feelings from being seen. Boom.
    You're a fucking genius. Why you're not a the Mayo or Johns-Hopkins is a mystery and tragedy to modern science.

    So the heart rate sensor is why this is a Watch study? I’m assuming you could just as easily record behavioral information via your iPhone.
    If you're inclined to wear a watch you're far more likely to have it with you than your phone. They're exceptions but not everybody carries their phone on them at all times or has it at the table during meals. A well written app for the watch could be much quicker than retrieving a phone. One device to do a job instead of two.



    ascii said:
    Heart rate is not the first place I would start to look for an answer...
    Your area of medical research is what, exactly? Apple is looking to see if the Watch might be useful here. To that end, there would be no other place for Apple to start.
    MacPro
  • Reply 12 of 15
    macgui said:
    ireland said:
    Childhood trauma... uses food to protect certain feelings from being seen. Boom.
    You're a fucking genius. Why you're not a the Mayo or Johns-Hopkins is a mystery and tragedy to modern science.

    So the heart rate sensor is why this is a Watch study? I’m assuming you could just as easily record behavioral information via your iPhone.
    If you're inclined to wear a watch you're far more likely to have it with you than your phone. They're exceptions but not everybody carries their phone on them at all times or has it at the table during meals. A well written app for the watch could be much quicker than retrieving a phone. One device to do a job instead of two.



    ascii said:
    Heart rate is not the first place I would start to look for an answer...
    Your area of medical research is what, exactly? Apple is looking to see if the Watch might be useful here. To that end, there would be no other place for Apple to start.
    Actually, it sounds to me that the heart rate thing is supplemental to the main thrust -- which is the app running on both the iPhone and the Apple Watch and is used to collect subjective data on the person's mental state before, during and after an event.

    And, that type of thing has, so far, been very much underutilized in research:   Typically, when researchers want to know what people are doing they have had to merely ask them what they did in the past on a questionnaire -- which is commonly acknowledged to be highly unreliable and inaccurate.   Apps on the iPhone and Apple Watch will enable them to collect data as it happens which will greatly enhance the quantity and accuracy of the data. 
  • Reply 13 of 15
    ireland said:
    Childhood trauma... uses food to protect certain feelings from being seen. Boom.
    Yup, and the compulsive anxiety that is triggered from this. These issues account for most of these types of cases I've seen. Unfortunately, the treatments are often focused on the more superficial aspects, for example Vyvanse, which only addresses the appetite and impulsive components, while increasing the risk of worsening anxiety. Treating the anxiety/trauma more directly is usually more effective.
  • Reply 14 of 15
    For those wondering, the Apple watch could be a boon for the study, monitoring, and treatment of mental illness. Tracking physiologic responses, including sleep, will be a very, very, very helpful component of treatment in the future.

    People who suffer from mental illness usually have limited insight into their symptoms. And actually, most people have limited insight into their thoughts and feelings.

    We all live under the false pretense of free will.
  • Reply 15 of 15
    macgui said:
    ireland said:
    Childhood trauma... uses food to protect certain feelings from being seen. Boom.
    You're a fucking genius. Why you're not a the Mayo or Johns-Hopkins is a mystery and tragedy to modern science.

    So the heart rate sensor is why this is a Watch study? I’m assuming you could just as easily record behavioral information via your iPhone.
    If you're inclined to wear a watch you're far more likely to have it with you than your phone. They're exceptions but not everybody carries their phone on them at all times or has it at the table during meals. A well written app for the watch could be much quicker than retrieving a phone. One device to do a job instead of two.



    ascii said:
    Heart rate is not the first place I would start to look for an answer...
    Your area of medical research is what, exactly? Apple is looking to see if the Watch might be useful here. To that end, there would be no other place for Apple to start.
    You seem to have some very strong, and strongly negative, opinions about things you obviously know very little about. Just an observation..
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