Apple will donate 1,000 Apple Watches to the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in an effort to support binge eating and eating disorder research.
The research study is called BEGIN, an acronym for Binge Eating Genetics INitiative, and it is being conducted by the Center of Eating Disorders, which is part of the UNC School of Medicine.
According to the UNC School of Medicine’s official website, the goal of the BEGIN study is to better understand the genetic factors that may be associated with binge-eating disorder and bulimia nervosa in order to develop better treatments for the millions of people who suffer from these illnesses.
The program will focus its research on 1,000 participants that will be monitored through a mobile app called Recovery Record.
Participants will be required to wear an Apple Watch that will routinely check heart rates and observe any abnormalities that happen before the participant begins to overeat. Through the mobile app, users will also be able to log information regarding their thoughts and emotions that are to be accessed by their doctor ahead of their scheduled sessions.
Through this information, researchers hope to find what triggers overeating and whether the disorder (which according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders affects an estimated 30 million people in the United States) is linked to any behavioral or physical activity.
The use of Apple’s smart watches for BEGIN is just the latest utilization of mobile health technology for medical purposes. Earlier this year, the company unveiled their updated Health App that included the ambitious Health Records section, which allows patients affordable access to their hospital’s medical records.
Apple also announced Monday that it would be partnering with Zimmer Biomet to create a mobile app that would help hip and knee replacement patients stay in touch with their doctors, before and after their surgeries, in an effort to facilitate recovery.
As more researchers turn to the Apple Watch as a source for data gathering for medical studies, Apple’s ambitious push toward the health market seems to be headed in the right direction.