Study Participants Without Fitness Trackers Lost More Weight, Researchers Say

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Wearable technology, fitness trackers, old-fashioned pedometers — whatever you call them, they’re supposed to motivate you to get up and moving.

But as CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez reported, a new study claims the devices may not be helping you lose weight.

These days it seems like fitness trackers are everywhere; in the gym and on the road.

Kimberly Walling watches her FitBit numbers like a hawk.

“I look at it several times a day on the app and then see how many steps I’m at,” she said.

She’s convinced the high tech bracelet will help her lose weight.

“So today I’ve eaten 856 calories and I’ve burned 1150,” she said.

Many Americans are turning to the wearable devices in their fight against obesity.

“We actually thought that adding these wearable technologies to that program would help them to lose more weight over 24 months, and to our surprise, that actually wasn’t what we found,” John M. Jakicic Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Physical Activity, University of Pittsburgh, said.

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh studied 471 overweight or obese young adults from 2010 to 2012. All study participants received counseling on diet and exercise. Then, 6 months into the study, half were randomly assigned to get a wearable device to help track physical activity and diet.

The group that did not use the wearable device actually lost more weight than the group who did — an average of 5.3-lbs more.

It’s possible that people thought the activity the devices measured was enough to lose weight.

“They don’t pay attention to some of the key behaviors that they otherwise might pay attention to. They’re relying on the device or the technology maybe a little bit too much and that may be why we saw a little bit less weight loss in that group,” Jakicic said.

The study appeared in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Although wearable technology has changed and improved since the study started, there is still no one size fits all fitness tracking device.

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