Increased exercise and a low-calorie diet, supported by an activity tracking device, is less effective than the same regime supported by regular counselling, according to a two-year study from the University of Pittsburgh in the US.
For the research, participants were put on low-calorie diets and prescribed increases in physical activity – but while device users lost an average of 7.7lbs, those being counselled lost an average of 13lbs.
The study concluded that, although devices allow for easy tracking of physical activity and give feedback and encouragement, they may not enhance adherence to a healthy lifestyle – ultimately the most important aspect of any weight-loss regime.
Lead researcher John Jakicic says: “Questions remain regarding the effectiveness of wearable devices, and how to best use them to modify physical activity and diet behaviours in adults seeking weight loss.”
Not only that, but a growing number of media reports and internet chat forums indicate that people who have turned to trackers to help them lose weight have found their weight plateau, or even rise – an outcome generally attributed to inaccurate calorie trackers, or to the fact that any nutritional advice from the tracker is insufficiently personalised, so users tend to make the wrong food choices.
So, what advice should operators be giving their clients when it comes to using activity trackers for weight loss? Might using a tracker stop you losing weight – or worse, cause you to put it on? We ask the experts.