Taking Quantified Self to the Classroom

Within the growing world of Health 2.0 followers exists of a subset of people that religiously tracks its personal information including work, sleep, exercise, diet and mood habits around the clock. These people, affectionately labeled quantified self (QS) geeks, affirm the mantra “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.”

WellnessFX is a health startup that encourages and aids quantification. Its web-based platform allows users to organize and visualize their personalized information by layering self-recorded data and data from QS health and fitness devices.

In the future, WellnessFX’s user base might extend beyond the geeks. That, or University of California, Davis food chemistry professor Bruce German hopes we all become geeks.

“The business opportunity is personalized health education,” German said at a WellnessFX event earlier this month. “Personalizing diet and health will be a major curriculum addition over the next few years. Someone’s going to have to do it.”

And German, a WellnessFX scientific board advisor, has thrown his support behind the company. German aims to change the fundamental way people learn about health and nutrition in the United States, and he advocates for health quantification starting at a young age.

U.C. Davis is in the early stages of a personalized health study for school children. Students from ages five to 17 wear Polar wristbands to track their activity. Later, they are asked questions like, “What were you doing while you were active?” and “What kinds of things prevent you from being active?” The goal is then for kids to increase the amount of time they spend doing activities they love and to try to eliminate barriers to that activity.

German says that enough is known about science to be able to do better than to just follow population-wide wellness recommendations. Unfortunately, there aren’t enough nutritionists and doctors for detailed personalized care. That’s why German says children need to leave high school with enough knowledge to act as their own clinicians. “It’s important to see themselves as chemists would,” he said.

One way to do this might be to have children become as familiar with and adept at using programs in the classroom like WellnessFX as they are with other information management programs like Excel.

WellnessFX launched its public beta at the Health 2.0 Conference in September and expects to do a full market release by the end of the year. Perhaps its new wave of adopters will be a younger group of users than WellnessFX originally anticipated.

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