New research from the University of Pittsburgh has generated results that question the weight loss benefits of fitness trackers. Accordingly, the media has taken a negative viewpoint, potentially damaging the public’s perception of the wearable technology.
The study, featured this week in JAMA showed that people using fitness trackers lost less weight than those who weren’t using them. The study was held over two years and consisted of 471 overweight people, aged between 18-35, who were assigned to one of two groups. All the participants were put on a low-calorie diet and given exercise instructions and group counselling sessions.
After six months one of the groups was randomly assigned the FitCore by Body Media to help aid their weight-loss. What the study found was that those using the FitCore lost approximately five pounds less weight than those who weren’t using it.
Whilst the results sound damaging, the study indicates that the fitness tracker used, the FitCore, is not a modern wearable device and according to Verge, the device has since been discontinued.
We reached out to leading wearables company, Fitbit, to see what they to say about the study. They clarified that most modern fitness trackers have engaging features that offer real-time updates, social networking features, guidance about health and more. Comparatively the participants who were using the FitCore had to log in to a website to see their data.
A statement from Fitbit showed that the company had conducted its own studies, and had found positive data for those using various fitness devices. For example, a three-year study found that people using both the Fitbit Aria, and a Fitbit tracker doubled their weight loss. Another result included the Kimberly Clarke Live Well Challenge that resulted in a total loss of 4,998lbs from 3,400 participants.
Even without this information the research from the University of Pittsburgh still resulted in the participants losing weight with or without the fitness tracker. Wearable devices might not be for everyone, but if people can get motivated to exercise and stay active because of them, they should be welcomed.