They might be worn everyday by tens of millions of people around the world, but fitness trackers offer no useful benefits when it comes to losing weight, a new study has claimed.
The study of 500 overweight people over a two year period, found that fitness trackers or other similar gadgets used to monitor and give feedback on physical activity actually result in LESS weight being lost than working out tech free.
The study, which is believed to be the first of its kind of look at the effectiveness of fitness trackers, put a group of young adults aged 18 to 35 on a low calorie diet, told them to exercise more frequently and also attended meet up sessions to help keep them motivated.
Six months into the study, half of the group were given fitness trackers to help them monitor their progress.
After two years, members of the group given fitness trackers lost an average of 3.5kg, whereas those who exercised tech free had lost 5.9kg.
The scientists behind the study said they were surprised by the results.
“While usage of wearable devices is currently a popular method to track physical activity (steps taken per day or calories burned during a workout) our findings show that adding them to behavioral counseling weight loss that includes physical activity and reduced calorie intake does not improve weight loss or physical activity engagement,” lead researcher John Jakicic told the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), which published the study.
While experts are still trying to work out the reasoning behind the results, one theory is that those wearing fitness trackers may have actually been demotivated by what the considered to be a lack of progress.
Another theory is that they actually started to reward themselves with treats after checking their steps or the amount of calories burned.
In response to the study, a spokesperson for Fitbit, makers of one of the most popular fitness trackers said: “We are confident in the positive results users have seen from the Fitbit platform, including our wearable devices.”