Nestle, Medidata to use fitness trackers to study impact of activity, nutrition on adults with joint discomfort

By Aditi Pai
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Nestle is conducting a two-year clinical study with data company Medidata in China to assess the impact of physical activity and nutrition on adults with joint discomfort. The study will use Garmin fitness trackers and a mobile app.

“The research program, developed in collaboration with dedicated experts from Nestle research centers in Lausanne and Beijing, is extending Medidata and Nestle Clinical Development Unit’s well-established relationship beyond traditional clinical trials,” Nestle Head of Clinical Operations Stephane Collet said in a statement. “We are collecting more data from study participants than ever before and achieving more insight into the impact our nutritional products can have on improving people’s quality of life.” 

The trial was quietly launched in May 2015. Participants will track their movement and mobility using Garmin vivofit activity trackers. They will also use Medidata’s ePRO (electronic patient-reported outcomes) app to answer questionnaires and submit subjective data about how they are feeling. Nestle and Medidata said they were unable to disclose the number of trial participants.

“Our exciting partnership with Nestle is part of our ongoing efforts to show that mobile health tools can be incorporated into the highly structured world of clinical trials and bring great value to science-based research programs,” Medidata Chief Operating Officer Mike Capone said in a statement.

This isn’t the first digital health partnership Nestle has launched. Last year, Nestle Health Science partnered with a company developing health apps, called My Total Health to created a My Nutrition Health app, which is designed to help people discover food intolerances and allergies. The app is actually integrated with a wearable sensor that records the sounds a user's stomach makes during digestion and analyzes those sounds.

In November 2014, Medidata announced that it was working with pharma company GlaxoSmithKline to evaluate the impact of wearable sensors in clinical trial settings. In the study, conducted at GSK's Human Performance Laboratory, six healthy participants used health sensors to track their health data. They uploaded this data into an app from Medidata, which in turn uploaded it into the lab's clinical record. Patients were asked to go through their normal daily routines, and only checked in with the lab at the beginning and end of the trial.