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Are fitness trackers making us fatter?

Posted by Rachel Nulty on 22nd September 2016

A two-year study carried out by the University of Pittsburgh suggests that fitness trackers are actually making us fatter.

The research was carried out among 470 students undergoing counselling because of their weight. Half of the participants were given an armband that measured their steps and how many calories they had burned. They were also given a wristband to monitor the results. The other half were treated using a normal weight-loss routine, including diet and exercise advice.

Surprisingly, it was the students without the trackers who actually ended up losing more weight, with an average losing 13 pounds. Those using the trackers only managed to lose 7.7 pounds — nearly half.

So who is to blame? Is it the trackers themselves, or the people using them? John Jakicic, director of the Physical Activity and Weight Management Research Center at the University of Pittsburgh, believes that there are a number of factors that may have contributed to these results.

He thinks that the trackers might give individuals a false sense of security, making users think that they are being super active so therefore they treat themselves as a reward. Or maybe the trackers actually discourage users through the lack of steps they have been taking, which reduces motivation to even try.

Whatever the reason, it’s definitely something manufacturers that develop these technologies need to look into in the future to make their fitness tech work for users.

There’s not much evidence to suggest that the fitness trackers are making us fatter. After all, the people using them still lost weight. I just think that information they provide to users is not fully understood by the majority, leading to a lack of progression.

Rachel Nulty

Rachel completed a degree in Public Relations and Online Communications in Dundalk IT, Ireland. During her degree she gained practical experience in the world of PR working as a Communications intern for a government body and began working at Wildfire in December 2016. Rachel spent some time travelling in Canada, where she developed a love of the outdoors, from climbing mountains to snowboarding  and skydiving, Rachel is always looking for her next thrilling adventure.