You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t wear a fitness tracker these days.
From the increasingly sleek and stylish FitBit to the Apple watch, it’s never been easier to track your stats in an effort to keep fit.
But if you thought it was the secret to success, think again.
Another study has found that wearable trackers don’t actually seem to help people lose weight.
In the report published yesterday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the research team assigned 471 overweight participants aged between 18 and 35 into a weight loss group for two years.
Watch: Sam Wood demonstrates a quick at-home workout. (Post continues after video.)
Both groups were assigned a low-calorie diet, increased physical activity and group counselling.
After six months, text message prompts and telephone counselling were added, with the first group using a website to self-monitor their diet and exercise while the second were given wearable devices.
While all participants showed “significant” improvements in body composition, fitness, physical activity and diet, those in the standard group lost about 5.9 kilograms on average while the technology group only lost an average of 3.5 kilograms.
“The whole hypothesis was that [wearables] would be helpful, and they worked just the opposite. But that makes it even more intriguing,” study author John Jakicic of the University of Pittsburgh told Time.
While they concluded that devices that monitor and provide feedback on physical activity do not give have any advantages over other weight loss approaches, exactly why this is remains unclear.
One explanation the team came up with was that seeing their physical activity throughout the day gave users a false sense of security, making them think that since they had done so much exercise they could eat more.
On the flip side, they could actually be discouraging.
"These are people who are already struggling, and already don’t like activity. They look down and see, ‘I am so far away from my goal today, I can’t do it.’ It could be working against them," Jackicic said. (Post continues after gallery.)
Many who have tried them will also attest to the rapid speed in which the novelty can wear off.
Ultimately, the researchers have reinforced claims that fitness trackers aren't the magic solution some people claim to be - although that doesn't mean disregard them completely.
"There’s probably a time and place for wearables, and there’s so much more we need to learn about them. For the person who finds wearables engaging, absolutely use them," he said.