Quest, Fitbit take first step in combining wearables and diagnostics to improve metabolic health

Just as users around the world are surely strapping on new Fitbits with an aim of tackling health-focused New Year’s resolutions, so too is Fitbit itself kicking off 2024 with its sights set on a new goal.

The Google-owned fitness tracker maker is teaming up with Quest Diagnostics, according to a Wednesday release, to study how the combination of the two companies’ products could potentially help improve metabolic health, which is linked to conditions like diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

The companies noted in their announcement that factors like diet, exercise and sleep—all of which, not-so-coincidentally, are tracked by Fitbit devices—can all have an impact on metabolic health.

“Improving metabolic health is essential to prolong the time we stay healthy and disease free,” said Javier Prieto, Ph.D., a principal investigator and senior staff research scientist at Google. “Metabolic health is influenced by many factors. We think this study will help us uncover how biometrics measured by wearables can help you understand your metabolic health. With that understanding you will be able to improve your health through better activity, sleep and dietary habits.”

Quest and Fitbit’s joint pilot study has been dubbed WEAR-ME, short for Wearables for Metabolic Health, and is expected to be completed this year. It’ll recruit around 1,500 existing Fitbit users, who will be asked to share three months’ worth of data collected by their wearables and to undergo a panel of blood tests, including analyses of their blood sugar, cholesterol and triglycerides.

Meanwhile, Fitbit and Quest will analyze the participants’ paired Fitbit-collected data and diagnostic results to look for links between wearable usage and metabolic health. In doing so, the companies are hoping to better understand how relying on a wearable device to track diet, exercise and sleep may improve a wearer’s health, as well as how the devices could potentially help to prevent metabolic diseases.

“By teaming up, Quest and Fitbit will harness laboratory testing to better understand the type of information that motivates people to make healthy choices that ultimately improve their health,” Richard Adams, a VP and general manager of Quest’s consumer-initiated testing business, said in the announcement.

The lab testing—conducted at a nearby Quest patient service center—will be free to the study participants, each of whom will then have access to their test results via mobile apps from both Quest and Google.

The latter of these, the Google Health Studies App, is also the platform through which potential participants will sign up for the study and schedule their blood draw appointment.