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Using wearable fitness trackers results in significantly less weight loss, study suggests

The use of wearable technology to keep track of diet and exercise progress does not improve weight loss, a new randomized controlled trial has found.
The prevalence of fitness trackers to chart daily steps take, stairs climbed, calories consumed, and other measurements has risen sharply in recent years.
According to global estimations, 19.7 million devices were bought during the first quarter of 2016, compared with 11.8 million a year earlier. However, the long-term health benefits associated with their use remained unclear until now.
The two-year study, published in JAMA, followed 471 overweight people aged 18 to 35 years old and engaged in a behavioural weight-loss programme.
Researchers with the University of Pittsburgh placed participants on a low-calorie diet, prescribed a training plan, and held weekly group counselling sessions as part of the study.
Six months into the study, half of the volunteers were given a device (the BodyMedia FIT Core), similar to today’s fitness trackers worn on the wrist like a watch, which monitors and provides feedback on physical activity.
The results of the study showed that the weight-loss programme resulted in significant weight loss over 24 months. But, when researchers added the technology, it actually hurt the weight loss by about 2.4 kg.
Specifically, those provided with the fitness trackers lost on average 3.5 kg, while those self-monitoring lost 5.9 kg on average at 24 months.
Although body composition, diet, fitness and physical activity improved similarly in both groups, wearing the technology resulted in less weight loss than not wearing the technology.
Lead researcher Dr John Jakicic said that those using fitness trackers might have felt they were able to reward themselves with treats more than other participants, leading to less weight loss than expected.

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