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Wearable Activity Trackers Do Not Improve Weight Loss, Physical Activity Engagement

Sep 21, 2016 05:26 AM EDT
Launch Of Fitbit Local Free Community Workouts In New York At Union Square
A new study reveals that wearable fitness trackers are not reliable when it comes to weight loss and engagement in physical activities.
(Photo : Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for Fitbit)

A new study revealed that the commercially available wearable activity trackers can't be used as a reliable tool for producing and maintaining weight loss.

The study, published in the journal JAMA, shows that people who regularly use wearable devices that monitor and provide feedback on physical activity are less likely to lose weight compared to people who stick to standard weight-loss approaches that include behavioral counseling on physical activity and nutrition.

"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 r weight loss that includes physical activity and reduced calorie intake does not improve weight loss or physical activity engagement," explained John Jakicic, researcher and chair of University of Pittsburgh School of Education's Department of Health and Physical Activity and lead author of the study, in a press release.

For the study, the researchers followed 470 individuals, aged 19 to 35 years, with body mass index between 25 and 39 for 24 months. At first, all the participants were placed on low-calorie diets, prescribed increases in physical activity and given group-counseling sessions on health and nutrition for six month. After that, the participants were divided into two groups.

The first group continued to receive counseling on physical activity and nutrition, while the second group was given a wearable device to monitor diet and physical activity. The weight of the participants was assessed at six-month interval.

The researchers observed that participants who continued the counseling throughout the study have an average weight loss of 13 pounds, while the participants who were given a wearable activity tracker only have an average of 7.7 pounds weight loss.

 The device used in the study was to be worn on the upper. It provided feedback on energy and expenditure and physical activity that is being monitored by a specifically-designed website.

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