Most Invasive Health and Fitness Apps

Key Takeaways

  • Just over 1 in 5 health-related mobile applications share its users’ data with third parties.
  • Over 2 in 5 health-related mobile applications collect their users’ data for their own use.
  • Over 2 in 5 health-related mobile applications track their users’ data across other companies’ apps and websites.
  • Fitbod Workout & Fitness Plans, FollowMyHealth®, and Telehealth by SimplePractice are among apps that don’t collect, share, or track any of its users’ data.

Health Apps That Share Your Data

Our first step was to compare and contrast our chosen apps based on their “third-party data sharing” policies. This means that the app shares your information with a third party or one other than itself.

June 2020 marked a major historical moment for Apple and its users: a new privacy information section was added to product pages on the App Store. For the first time, users were given greater transparency and awareness of exactly what data an app would gather about them – before they chose to download it. While this information is currently still self-reported by each app, it’s a quantum leap forward for user privacy.

Perhaps the most sensitive app types with regards to data privacy are those that collect medical information, such as fitness, health, and wellness apps. In the name of increased safety, we recently collected an exhaustive list of 196 physical health, mental health, fitness, and general wellness apps with the ultimate purpose of gauging how much data each one collects. Keep reading to see what we found.

Health Apps That Share Your Data

Our first step was to compare and contrast our chosen apps based on their “third-party data sharing” policies. This means that the app shares your information with a third party or one other than itself.

Health-related apps sharing data with third parties

More than one in five (21%)of the health-related apps we analyzed shared user information with third-party vendors. Some apps do this for their own direct benefit, such as outsourcing their data interpretation for better understanding. Others do it for the direct benefit of the third party. Either way, it’s important to be aware of the possibility that your information is not remaining within the app.

Third-Party Data Sharing

Two of the pregnancy and fertility apps in the study –Ovia’s pregnancy and fertility trackers –shared the highest percentage of a user’s data (more than half). This information included contact information, diagnostics, and even financial information. They were also among the few that admitted to storing “sensitive information,” such as a person’s intimate medical details.

Ovia was far from alone, however. Even simpler apps like Motivation – Daily Quotes, which requires zero personal information to function, still reported sharing user purchases, search history, and personal identifiers. All of this data likely provides an additional source of income for the app company.

Making It Personal

Another type of data companies must now admit to collecting is data for personal use. This means that the app will be using it for your app-specific experience, as opposed to sharing it with a third party (although the two are not mutually exclusive).

Health-related apps collecting data for personal use

Data collection for personal use was much more common than third-party sharing: 42% of the apps we studied collected this information. This makes sense, as it’s considerably less privacy-infringing, and can help to personalize the in-app experience for each user.

Personal Data Collection

GoodRx: Prescription Coupons, for example, collected 57% of a user’s available information, from browsing history to usage data. This information, while personal, can greatly help users find prescription discounts that are relevant to their particular needs, as opposed to those for a more general audience.

Ovia Pregnancy Tracker and its corresponding fertility tracker again scored some of the highest percentages for collecting data for personal use. Given the app’s purpose – tracking a pregnancy journey – it makes sense that they would need to collect personal data. It’s also worth noting that the app averages a 4.9 star rating from more than 60,000 users, suggesting that data collection does not necessarily hinder the overall app experience. For an app like I am – Daily Affirmations, however, it’s slightly less clear how this type of data might be used to improve the experience.

Data Tracking

Next, we looked into the type of user data being tracked by health-related applications. Beyond collecting data for their own use and sharing it with third parties, do apps track information about their users through other apps and websites?

Health-related apps tracking user data

Data tracking seemed to be just as common as data collecting and twice as common as third-party sharing. Forty-two percent of the apps we studied were found to be tracking data, which is clearly more intrusive than collecting or sharing in-app data.

Tracking Users Outside the App

Though this might be a surprising category in which to find a religious app, at the time of writing, Prayer, Sleep, Bible ranked as the 16th most downloaded “Health and Fitness” app. It’s also the top-ranking app in terms of the percentage of personal data tracked across other apps and websites. This app tracks, and potentially shares, your contact information, personal identifiers, purchases, and more, all outside the app.

Motivation – Daily Quotes ranked highly in this category too. For instance, even when the app is not in use, it still tracks its users’ search history, purchases, and user content. While the app does disclose this information prior to download, not everyone is tech-literate enough to understand the implications, and most people do not read an app’s terms and conditions in full.

Healthy Levels of Safety

With so much concerning data sharing happening in the app world, we wanted to end our study on a more uplifting note. Here, we share what we consider to be some of the safest health-related apps or those that share 0% of their users’ data.

Safest Health-Related Apps

These apps prove that it’s possible to provide health and wellness value without collecting and sharing data. Of the 196 health, fitness, food/diet, sleep, and mental health apps we studied, 25 shared 0% of their users’ data. Everything from White Noise Deep Sleep Sounds to CVS Caremark – and even an app for finding weed! – are available within the app store and do not share your information with third parties.

In a time when mental health is so intensely tested, it’s also important to note that the popular therapy app –Better Help – Therapy –completely avoids collecting and sharing your data. If you’re in need of therapy, as are so many people during this precarious pandemic era, you have at least one option that will also maintain the privacy of your data. Feel free to browse the list for other nutrition, fitness, and wellness trackers that will provide you with valuable information without sharing your personal information. They do exist!

Staying Informed the Healthy Way

Thanks to Apple’s new privacy policies, users can be more aware of the data that their apps will use and/or share. That being said, this transparency does not mean that apps will cease to collect or distribute personal information altogether. Of the 196 health and wellness apps we tracked, the vast majority were found to both collect and share everything from search history to financial information with third-party vendors. It’s important to stay aware and choose the types of apps that are right for you, especially when it’s in the name of health. is entirely dedicated to helping you find the best fitness tools. More specifically, FitRated lets you filter results by your personal budget and fitness goals in order to help find the perfect fitness equipment for your home. Whether you’re on a tight budget or looking for something more advanced, you deserve to be able to work on your fitness to improve your physical health, but also your mental health. To get some help finding your next piece of equipment, head to today.

Methodology and Limitations

For this study, we analyzed 196 iOS applications related to health (including health, fitness, food/diet, mental health, and sleep apps). Utilizing the “App Privacy” section within each application in the App Store, we were able to collect information about the user data apps share with third parties (“Third-Party Advertising”), the data they collect for personal use (“Developer’s Advertising or Marketing”), and the data tracked outside the app’s use (“Data Used to Track You”).

No statistical testing was performed, so the claims listed above are based on means alone. As such, this content is exploratory and is presented for informational purposes only.

Fair Use Statement

Sharing information is a key component of what makes Apple’s new policy more fair and transparent. If you’d like to share this information for the benefit of others, you are free to do so. Just be sure your purposes are noncommercial and that you link back to this page.