- Wearable devices did not help a group patients perform better than patients without access to wearable devices in a weight loss intervention program, according to a study published on Tuesday in JAMA.
- Patients using wearable devices actually lost an average of 5.29 pounds less than patients using a website to track progress. Both groups lost weight, the researchers found.
- Wearable devices shouldn’t be written off as ineffective due to the results, but researchers believe there needs to be a better understanding of the link between wearable device use and behavior changes.
With all the hype surrounding wearable devices, one would assume that their integration into a weight loss program would prove effective. However, in this study, wearable devices seem to have hindered progress instead of enabling it.
Researchers investigated results for a total of 471 patients who enrolled in a weight loss intervention program at the University of Pittsburgh between October 2010 and October 2012. For the first six months of the intervention, all patients followed the same program, which included a low-calorie diet, increases in physical activity, and group counseling sessions. At six months, the study group was given access to wearable devices with a web-based interface and the control group was given access to a standard website with fitness tracking functionality.
Consumers are enthusiastic about the potential for wearable devices to help them track health information. However, when push comes to shove, they might not actually use them. Cost was the number one factor keeping consumers from purchasing wearable devices, according to a 2016 report from consulting firm PwC. What was the second most important factor? Consumers wondered whether they’d even use them.
Results to this study suggest that access to a wearable device does not guarantee usage or at least not correct usage. In this instance, patients relying on less trendy web-based tracking systems were better served than those using wearable devices. Until researchers can pinpoint exactly how wearable devices can improve health outcomes, they are likely more form than functionality.