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The 'Quantified Self' Craze: Tracking Your Own Data Can Be Dangerous

These days, you can digitally track pretty much everything about your health. But how you interpret that data might be problematic.
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With growing numbers of digital health trackers on the market (the wearable tech craze adding more fuel to the fire), it is not surprising that more and more consumers are tracking their health on their own. 

An awareness of one’s health is by no means a bad thing, but according to USA Today, there may be some downfalls to this new trend of the "quantified self"-- this idea that one can use data to monitor oneself. 

Dennis Nash, president of Data Speaks Health Solutions, told the outlet that the data aggregated by tracking technology can be hard--even dangerous-- to analyze without a doctor. Additionally, he said that the act of tracking can consume users.

“Once you start doing it, you can start to get addicted to collect more data,” he added, saying the stress of monitoring can actually harm a person's health. Even with those obvious dangers in mind, the outlet profiled several data-tracking-to-better-health success stories.

Dangerous or not, just how big is the "quantifiable self" movement?

A recent survey done by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project found that seven out of 10 people have regularly tracked some aspect of their health. The survey also found that 60 percent of adults track their weight diet and exercise routines, with just 33 percent of people tracking health indicators or symptoms. Tracking has influenced 46 percent of trackers’ approach to their health and it has affected how 34 percent of people tracking their health data have responded to an illness or condition. 

And from sleep patterns to weight loss--even a dog's health--it looks like this need for tracking has been somewhat a boon for start-ups.

Last updated: Aug 7, 2013

ABIGAIL TRACY

Abigail Tracy is a staff reporter for Inc. magazine. Previously, she worked for Seattle Metropolitan magazine and Chicago magazine.




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