Tracking Devices Do Not Magically Melt Pounds Away

Posted 04/03/2017 | By HealthCorps

Journaling exercise and nutrition information has been a well-documented health habit, if you’re trying to improve lifestyle habits or lose weight.  Keeping a daily diary that tracks your eating and exercise efforts helps individuals to monitor their efforts.  It also offers a way to be objective, by keeping a tabulation of daily data.  So it would seem intuitively helpful to use more modern tracking devices to support weight loss or exercise goals.   Not so fast, says a new study.

The two year trial (October 2010 – October 2012) enrolled 471 adults with a BMI range between 25 and 39.  All participants were put on a low calorie diet, were encouraged to exercise, and participated in group counseling sessions.  At the six month point of the study, telephone counseling, text message prompts, access to study material on a website were added.  At this six month point the group was divided into a “standard intervention” and “enhanced intervention” group.  The standard intervention group began to self-monitor their diet and exercise efforts using a website check in to chart data.  The enhanced intervention group was given wearable tracking devices and web interface access to self-monitor progress.

The study results showed that both groups improved in body composition, fitness, physical activity and diet.  There were no clear differences between the groups, which indicated to researchers that the wearable technology did not appear to “offer an edge” in terms of additional progress and weight loss.

Experts theorize that the wearable technology may not be “the right fit” for individuals that skew to the higher BMI measurements, because they may need more serious supportive tools.  The wearable technology may also incite a bit of cheating, since the participants using those devices may feel that they have a better handle on their progress.”  Wearable tech devices may also lure individuals into thinking that they are more in control and tempt them to allow more treats at home or at their work place.  After all, they’re “constantly tracking” so there’s no way they would succumb to temptation.

On the other hand, along with a sensible eating program, a fitness program that is sustainable, stress reduction, good sleep habits and a support group, wearable technology can give you “reminders and prompts” to stay committed to these habits.  The study results really serve to remind us that there’s no magical tool that will resolve weight issues.  It takes hard work, commitment, and a sustainable healthy lifestyle personalized to your needs and goals.



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