Is wearable technology the “weigh” to weight loss?

A hot gift item this holiday season is an activity tracker. One of the most well-known brands is the “fitbit ®”. This wearable technology has become very popular for monitoring various activities including number of steps walked or climbed, distance run, heart rate, quality of sleep. Some devices have the ability to calculate calories burned and record daily food intake allowing the user to monitor potential weight loss.

If weight loss is your primary goal for using an activity tracker, consider this recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.  Researchers enrolled 470 people in a study comparing weight loss differences in individuals who used activity trackers compared with those who did not. Both groups received traditional instructions on weight loss before starting the study. After 2 years, both groups benefited equally in the areas of fitness and activity however, the individuals who followed traditional monitoring lost more weight, though the weight loss in both groups was minimal. 

The precise reason for the weight change difference was not clear in the study. We here at Health4U speculate that monitoring food intake and weight changes are best managed by paying attention to your body's cues for feeding as opposed to relying on wearable technology or any other external cue to inform you about how much to eat. This is an example of internal versus external regulation of food. If you find this intriguing, you may want to register for the Health4U course “How to Eat”  to learn more about internal regulation. 

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