Apple To Donate 1,000 Apple Watches to Eating Disorder Study

Apple is donating 1,000 of its Apple Watches to a study that is aiming to find out whether binge eating is due to biological or behavioral causes.

According to a new report from CNBC, The University of North Carolina’s medical school will soon be starting a study called BEGIN, which stands for Binge Eating Genetics Initiative, to better understand overeating.

Specifically, participants in the study will wear an Apple Watch to monitor their heart rates over an entire month. They will also use a mobile app to record their thoughts and emotions about their binge eating periods. The researchers are looking to see if there are biological changes occurring in the body before a binge eating episode — evidence of such biological changes could cause heart rate spikes before each episode, something the Apple Watch can detect.

Participants will also be asked to sign up to an app called Recovery Record, which lets them log their emotional responses during the course of the project. “We’re interested to find out what happens in the time period leading up to the binge and the purge,” said Jenna Tregarthen, CEO of Recovery Record. “And we hope we can anticipate and ultimately change the course of that episode.”

Ultimately, researchers hope the collected data might help them to predict binge eating episodes before they happen. Ideally, this could result in a follow-up study in which participants received some kind of alert when they were at risk of binge eating.

This isn’t the first time the Apple Watch has been used as part of research studies. At present, a large-scale study into heart health among Apple Watch owners is busy wrapping up. Called the Apple Heart Study, the 2017 initiative was a collaboration between Apple and Stanford University.