What is it about?

That more and more people are interested in using technology to help people living healthier lives (ie, being more active, sitting less, eating healthier) is not a secret. There are also many researchers who are working in this space. However, we wanted to know how big is the research field actually. For this we searched for all studies that were related to technology-based physical activity, sedentary behavior and healthy eating research. We found 1712 papers that were published between 2000 and end 2016. We carefully assessed these and got some interesting findings. Overall, the research output in the field is astonishing with an increase of about 25% papers per year. However, only in the last 3-4 years has the research output grown extremely. We also found that the papers are not only growing in numbers but that they also have great impact. They get cited a lot more often than papers in other fields which means this research field is important. We also discovered that, in the last few years, research has increasingly looked into the newest and hippest technologies (such as smartphones and trackers). Although this all sounds positive we found that only about 3% of the research comes from lower-middle income countries. This is unsatisfying as about 80% of the world population lives in these countries and research focussing on health behaviors is urgently needed.

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Why is it important?

This is an important piece of work as it shows that academia is following the technological trends and tries to research about the value of new technologies for the health of people. From the wealth of research it appears that technologies can indeed be used to make people move more, sit less and eat healthier. However, more work in lower-middle income countries is needed to fully utilize the inherent potential of new technologies.


There is indeed a strong increase in scientific output in this field. Although this is positive, it also begs the question how researchers can keep up with the volume of papers.

Dr Andre Matthias Müller
National University of Singapore

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Physical Activity, Sedentary Behavior, and Diet-Related eHealth and mHealth Research: Bibliometric Analysis, Journal of Medical Internet Research, April 2018, JMIR Publications Inc.,
DOI: 10.2196/jmir.8954.
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