Many people in our modern world find themselves relying on fitness devices, such as Fitbits or Apple Watches, to keep track of their exercise and fitness goals. But a recent study suggests that using this technology alone does not always cause weight loss.
Two studies recently sought to create a link between wearable technology and weight loss. The first, a 2011 study, compared four groups of people that participated in a blend of weight loss programs and wore armbands that tracked their progress. Out of all the groups, those who both participated in the programs and wore the armbands lost the most weight. Though this study linked exercise tracking to weight loss, lacking variation in its demographics rendered it unreliable.
The next study, the 2015 PACE-Lift trial, involved 250 people aged 60 to 75. Half of these people received a pedometer, a physical activity diary, and physical activity consultations with nurses. The other half did not receive these aids; however, both groups received accelerometers, which track movement. This study concluded that the group with resources took an average of 600 more steps every day and engaged in 40 more minutes of activity every week. But, researchers could not to prove beyond a doubt whether the results were due to the resources offered or the individual efforts of participants.
In 2016, the results of a third study were published. This well-rounded study—called the IDEA trial—took place from 2010 to 2012, and more than 470 adults ages 18 to 35 participated in it. Participants in the study maintained a low-calorie diet, attended group counseling sessions, and were asked to become more active. Six months into this study, half of the participants received fitness devices that provided them feedback on their progress. When the two-year study came to an end, results showed that those who did not have the weight loss technology lost an average of 13 pounds. In contrast, participants who used the technology for 18 months lost a perhaps surprising average of only 7.7 pounds.
Overall, the results of the IDEA trial opposed the results of earlier studies and suggested there is no link between weight loss and the use of fitness devices.
Creators of weight loss devices like the ones used in these studies indicate that the true purpose of wearable tech is to make users more active, not to help them lose pounds directly. Further, there is no damage in using these devices: using them with the intention of becoming more active by tracking physical activity can't hurt. But, if you're looking to lose weight, the research-backed, working part of the equation is a healthy diet.
[Source: New York Times]