There has been a sharp rise in the number of people using wearable fitness trackers as people are increasingly become concerned about their health. They hope the device will help them lose weight, but new findings are contrary to this belief. Researchers who conducted a study released Tuesday claim that people do not actually get help from these devices, according to Medical Daily.
Why are wearable fitness trackers not helping?
The study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association covered a sample of 470 obese or overweight people. They were assigned a low-calorie diet and more physical activity along with group counseling sessions on health and nutrition. On completion of six months of the program, the researchers divided the participants into two groups. Those in one were given fitness trackers to wear on the upper arm, and the other group simply continued counseling sessions.
Researchers used BodyMedia Fit activity trackers for the study, as they were commonplace at the time it was started, states Medical Daily. The study took two years to complete, and upon its completion, those who were given the trackers lost 7.7 pounds of weight on average, while those in the other group lost 13 pounds on average.
In a statement, the study’s lead author, Jon Jakicic, who is also the chair of the University of Pittsburgh’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.”
This raises the question of why the wearable fitness trackers are not helpful in weight loss. Jakicic theorized that a false sense of security developed in the people who relied on these devices, as they started believing that whatever workout they did in a day was sufficient for them and that relaxing their diet restrictions would not harm them anyway.
Some were surprised with the finding
Several other studies have also indicated that fitness trackers often end up being given away or dumped in a drawer, notes CBS News. More than half of fitness tracker buyers eventually stop using them, while a third give up on their devices after about six months, according to an editorial published last year in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Dr. Reshmi Srinath, an assistant professor of endocrinology, diabetes and bone diseases at the Icahn School of Medicine, runs a weight loss program. She told CBS News that the results of the new study came as a surprise to her. Srinath said the results were really interesting because in her experience, most of her patients had been very motivated to lose weight and use wearable devices such as the FitBit and online programs like My Fitness Pal.
Srinath said most of them have been successful and have had the best outcomes. She said the timing at which the study has come is really crucial as more and more technology is out there, and the field is seeing continuous growth.