Fitness trackers are fun, but they probably aren’t effective for weight loss
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Do fitness trackers help you lose weight?
Not according to research.
Wearable fitness trackers that monitor physical activity may not help with weight loss, according to a new study.
The 24-month study found that people that received health counselling without a physical activity tracker lost almost twice as much weight (13 pounds) as people that used a wearable device (7.7 pounds).
The study’s lead researcher, John Jakicic, chair of Pitt’s Department of Health and Physical Activity said:
While usage of wearable devices is currently a popular method to track physical activity — steps taken per day or calories burned during a workout — our findings show that adding them to behavioral counseling weight loss that includes physical activity and reduced calorie intake does not improve weight loss or physical activity engagement.
Therefore, within this context, these devices should not be relied upon as tools for weight management in place of effective behavioral counseling for physical activity and diet.
Wondering how using a fitness tracker actually resulted in less weight loss in this study?
Jakicic gave some possible explanations:
These technologies are focused on physical activity, like taking steps and getting your heart rate up. People would say, ‘Oh, I exercised a lot today, now I can eat more.’ And they might eat more than they otherwise would have.
It’s also possible that meeting daily fitness goals and step counts might motivate one person, but missing those same goals could discourage another.
The study followed 470 people between the ages of 18 and 35 with a body mass index between 25 and 39.
All people in the study were put on low-calorie diets, prescribed increases in physical activity, and received group-counseling sessions on health and nutrition.
At the first six-month mark, participants were divided into two subgroups: one that continued health-counseling sessions on a monthly basis and another that received a wearable device to monitor diet and physical activity.
Weight was assessed at six-month intervals throughout the 24-months.
The study was published in The Journal Of The American Medical Association (Jakicic et al., 2016)
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