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In Brief: Most Americans Track Diet, Weight, or Exercise

Food DiarySix of every ten US adults track their weight, diet or exercise routine, with a fifth of these trackers keeping tabs on their health with the help of technology, according to a recent poll.

That figure nudged up to almost seven of ten adults when including those who track health indicators such as headaches and blood pressure and also tracking for loved ones. 

The Pew Internet poll was conducted by telephone last year to a nationally representative sample of adults.

Three percent of the respondents are living with cancer, with almost half living with at least one chronic condition. High blood pressure and diabetes were among the most common conditions. Those living with one or more chronic conditions are no more likely than other U.S. adults to track their weight, diet, or exercise, but they are more likely to track other health indicators or symptoms, such as blood sugar and headaches.

Among the poll’s other findings:

  • Half of the trackers say they do so “in their heads.”
  • Another 34 percent of trackers report they write their information on paper, such as in a journal.
  • 21 percent of the trackers say they use some form of technology, such as a mobile phone app or glucose meter
  • Men and women were equally likely to track their weight, diet and exercise routine. 
  • One-third of trackers (34%) say they share their records or notes with another person or group.
  • 46 percent of trackers say that this activity has changed their overall approach to maintaining their health or the health of someone for whom they provide care, such as asking a doctor new questions: those who keep formal notes are more likely to report this impact than those who track in their head.

Source: Susannah Fox, Maeve Duggan.Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project Tracking for Health.” January 28, 2013.

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