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Fitness Trackers and Why You Shouldn’t Have One

There’s been a surge in the use of wearable fitness trackers to aid weight loss. If you’ve also hopped on the bandwagon, you probably think that keeping track of how much you move will definitely help you achieve your weight loss goals. But is that really the case? Let’s see what research has to say.

2-Year Study Findings

In a study that was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association last month, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh recruited 471 adults who were either overweight or obese and were aged 18 to 35 years, put them on a low-calorie diet and prescribed an exercise plan that consisted of moderate to vigorous activities. The whole group also attended counselling sessions each week to support their weight loss efforts.

After six months, half of the group were provided with wearable fitness trackers to help keep tabs on their steps, calories burned and hours slept. The other half were left to monitor their diet and exercise on their own.

After two years, the group using the activity tracker had lost 7.7 pounds on average in comparison to the 13 pounds that the other group lost.

Interpretation of the Results

The researchers concluded that adding a wearable device to standard behavioural intervention caused less weight loss among young adults whose BMI lay between 25 and 40 over a period of 2 years. Therefore, wearable devices that keep track of physical activity and give feedback may not be more beneficial than standard weight loss approaches.

Japanese Researchers Findings

In March, Japanese researchers conducted a study on eight different fitness trackers that included popular devices like the Jawbone UP24 and the Fitbit Flex. They found the devices to be wide of the mark when recording calories burned by 278 calories.

The Bottom Line

The research findings shouldn’t discourage you from using fitness trackers. What they imply is that you shouldn’t solely rely on these devices to chart your weight loss progress. You should only use them to help you do all the key weight loss behaviours, which include eating a sensible amount of calories and doing moderate-to-vigorous activities at least 30 minutes daily.


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