Do fitness aids that track activity really help people lose weight? Surprisingly, the short answer may be “no.”
These gadgets have been all the rage for several years now and most of the makers have published studies stating evidence that proves the effectiveness of their devices for weight loss. However, a study published this year in the Journal of American Medicine reveals that the opposite may be true.
The study, which tracked 470 overweight or obese individuals ages 18 to 35 during a two-year period, actually found that the group who used only diet and exercise and did not use the activity tracker lost nearly twice as much weight as the group who monitored their activity with a tracker. These results seem contrary to what one would expect, so the big question is why?
The researchers hypothesize that users became too dependent on the devices to monitor and support their weight loss activity and would have done better relying on good old-fashioned willpower. Of course, the makers of the devices disagree vehemently with the results of the study, citing that the participants didn’t utilize “user-friendly” devices that sync easily to mobile phones or tablets and instead force users to go online to transfer their information from their tracker to their charts and other record keepers.
Despite the controversy surrounding the study and the growing popularity of fitness trackers (an estimated 19 million people will buy a wearable fitness device this year), the rate of obesity has not decreased among people in the age group with the highest fitness tracker use. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the rate of obesity for young adults continues to hover at about 30 percent for men and 34 percent for women.
Using a fitness tracker isn’t likely to cause you to gain weight, but it may not help you lose it either. The most important thing for your weight loss journey is to change your mindset to focus on nutrition and increased physical activity. At the end of the day, the same equation for weight loss holds true: Burn more calories than you consume and the pounds will begin to melt away.