New research suggests that your wristband could stunt your weight-loss potential.
If you bought some fitness tracker bling to remind you to make healthy choices each day and lose weight, we have a breaking bummer alert for you. New research suggests that your cool wearable tracker might actually be getting in the way of your weight loss.
For the study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh looked at just how effective wearables are when it comes to long-term weight loss.
Over the course of two years, researchers tracked 471 overweight participants between the ages of 18 and 35. Each participant was placed on a low-cal diet, given workout tips to up their activity levels, and participated in group counseling sessions. Then, six months into the study, the researchers threw in some phone counseling sessions, text reminders, and access to online study materials. At that point, half of the participants were also given a wearable device to monitor their diet and activity levels, while the other half was left to monitor themselves.
After two years on this healthy lifestyle plan, both groups had improvements in body composition, diet, physical activity, and overall fitness. But there was one major issue: The researchers found that the people tracking their progress with wearables actually lost less weight than the group that was self-monitoring. The tracker device group lost an average of nearly eight pounds, while those without trackers lost an average of 13 pounds.
The tricky thing is that researchers aren’t sure why this happened. Though other studies have shown that using a tracking device like a Fitbit or Apple Watch can actually boost weight loss, they were performed over a shorter time period. This could mean that wearables help boost your motivation at first but lose their effectiveness in the long run.
Though further research is definitely needed, this is a friendly reminder to use your tracking device as part of a larger healthy eating and exercise plan—rather than focusing solely on your tracker stats.