Everyone is looking for an easier way to maintain a healthy weight. From fad diets to unscientific weight-loss trends, there are lots of ways to waste time and money on ineffective health strategies. But one reason people fail at their weight loss goals is that it is hard to be accountable to the commitment. Indeed, weight loss requires long term effort, a commitment to staying on track for several weeks. And with the busy schedules and high food costs, it is getting harder and harder to make such commitments.
So you would think that fitness trackers would help more people uphold their diet and long-term health commitments. Unfortunately, a new study appears to suggest that this is not the case. A two-year study out of the University of Pittsburg has concluded that wearable technology does not, in fact, help people lose weight when they increase their use of that technology.
For this study, researchers applied low-calorie diets with physical activities in combination with group discussions, face-to-face sessions, and counseling. They separated the 470-strong “overweight adult” study population into two groups. One group used activity trackers while the other group only utilized self-monitoring methods. Both groups tracked their physical activity, meeting the researchers only once a month over an 18-month study period.
In the study, the researchers found that the second group—those without activity trackers—lost 13 pounds, on average. The first group—those who did use activity trackers—lost only a little more: 16 pounds.
Regarding the results, lead study author Dr. John Jakicic says, “The biggest takeaway isn’t just ‘Hey don’t use them, they don’t work. Maybe relying on these devices too much will hamper your effort. Before we recommend them to everybody, we need to say they’re for some people, but for some, they don’t work well. We have more to understand that.”
It could be argued that the fitness trackers did help some of the people in the study, but the authors make sure to note that the benefit does not appear to be significant if notable at all.
Jakicic adds: ” People may tend to focus on the activity that they kind of lost touch with the other pieces that are important for their weight- and that’s having attention to their diet.”