Health or harm: The role of fitness technology on safe drinking choices

Jennifer Ann Kelleher

Abstract


Alcohol is a pervasive problem on college campuses with nearly 80% of college students drinking and 40% binge drinking. Such high rates of alcohol consumption are alarming because alcohol use is associated with decreased academic performance and increased risk of sexual assault. Although many college students engage in risky alcohol related behaviors, it appears students have an elevated concern for monitoring their health with fitness technology, such that there are over 10.9 billion Fitbit users and 77.8% of college students perform cardio exercises at least once a week. However, no study has looked at if those who use fitness technology make healthier drinking choices than those who do not use fitness technology. Due to the fact fitness technology encourages health behaviors, the authors predicted that those who wear fitness technology would make healthier decisions when drinking alcohol compared to those who do not wear fitness technology. To test this hypothesis an electronic survey with questions on fitness tracker usage and the Protective Behavioral Strategies scale was sent to undergraduate college students at a Midwest, mid-sized university. Results suggested that students who use fitness technology are more likely to limit/stop their drinking and take action to avoid serious harm from drinking compared to those who do not use fitness technology. These results are important to universities who may want to leverage technology to promote healthy and safe drinking decisions. However, more research is needed to know if the fitness technology itself encourages safer drinking decisions or if those students who use fitness technology are already more aware of the impact their decisions have on their health, and thus they make both smarter drinking and fitness decisions.


Keywords


Alcohol, Fitness Technology, Protective Behavioral Strategies

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