Image source: Fitbit

Fitness trackers & smartwatches help with weight-loss new study shows

Fitness trackers and smartwatches can be highly effective when it comes to shedding those extra pounds. This is according to a new study.

The findings were published in the August 2021 edition of the British Journal of Sports Medicine. The actual research was done by scientists from the University of Minnesota.

Essential reading: Best fitness trackers and health gadgets

If you were wondering whether a wearable device can help you lose weight – the answer is yes. At least according to this study.

It goes under the catchy title: “Health wearable devices for weight and BMI reduction in individuals with overweight/obesity and chronic co-morbidities: systematic review and network meta-analysis“. Try repeating that!

According to latest statistics from the World Health Organisation, obesity is a big problem. In fact it has tripled since 1975.

The statistics make grim reading. Around 2 billion adults across the globe, 18 years and above, are considered to be overweight. Some 650 million of these are obese.


The study

The scientists analysed more than 2,200 individuals to reach their conclusions. Included in the research are findings from 31 previous clinical trials.

Individuals in these trials wore all types of wearables such as those from Fitbit, Garmin, Polar and more. Some of these studies were from a number of years ago (the earliest was from 2007), so include devices such as plain pedometers.

The period under monitoring lasted anywhere between four weeks to a full year. Individuals were tasked either with daily step goals or 150 minutes of moderate-to-intense physical activity. The latter is actually what is increasingly suggested these days. After all, riding a bicycle for an hour or swimming is not going to add too many steps to your daily count!

In order to make a difference, a reduction in body weight of 5-10% for those that are overweight was considered significant. This is because that amount of weight loss is associated with a reduction in risks of illnesses such as various types cancers, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, coronary artery disease and more.


The result

The study found that all types of wearable devices helped with weight loss and reduction in BMI. A period of at least 3 months is what is required for significant results. So make sure not to give up after a couple of weeks.

The average loss by those with a step counter was 9 pounds 11 ounces. That equated to a reduction in BMI of around 2. Scientists found that individuals that combined such a device with counselling or dietary changes typically saw the best results.


The takeaway

The study is the first that conclusively shows that fitness trackers and smartwatches are a wise financial investment when it comes to weight loss. It is also the most comprehensive of its kind encompassing findings from reputable research papers published between 2007 and 2020.

“Wearable fitness trackers represent a practical option for people who are overweight or obese and who have weight-related conditions,” said author of the study Dr. Zan Gao in a statement per South West News Service.

They allow users to set and track physical activity and provide constant reminders to get up and move – which promotes self-monitoring and self-regulation.”

Dr Gao also advised doctors to suggest fitness trackers or smartwatches as part of a patient’s weight-loss treatment. They present a viable alternative to clinical grade devices.

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