Wearables ‘shocker’: Website beats fitness tracker in weight loss program

The shock waves are reverberating through the wearables industry, but it is likely less than it seems. The JAMA study being cited was testing the hypothesis that technology could assist a weight loss program, and also what type of technology did best. The subject group of 471 at the University of Pittsburgh was young–18-35, prime for a wearable–overweight to moderately obese, and tracked for 24 months between 2010 and 2012 (!) The participants were started on a group weight loss program supported with calls and texts for the first six months, then randomized into two groups that monitored their diet and fitness either through a fitness tracker plus website (enhanced intervention group), or those using a website only (standard intervention). Both groups lost weight but the enhanced/fitness tracker group lost 5.29 pounds less than the website-only group.

The caveats: According to Mobihealthnews, the fitness band used was BodyMedia SenseWear, which was acquired by Jawbone and as they noted, put out of business. Fitness bands now also look and feel different than this early generation. Mobile tracking apps are now the standard versus going online which was necessary four years ago–a huge jump in convenience. But tracking itself may change behavior. The authors speculate that tracking data might actually demotivate people, or that activity ‘congratulations’ may lead to a bit of cheating. But they should try it with up to date trackers. Also Healthcare Dive and Reuters

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