Research: Activity monitors are not the perfect answer for weight loss.


Activity monitors such as a Fitbit work for some.

Fitbit Versa
Fitbit Versa

Obesity is a major health concern in western countries and it is growing just as fast as the suffers’ waist lines. In teh United States, patients with obesity can attend weight-loss programs that incldue a mix of exercise and dietary education. Changes in dietary and physical activity are essential for successful weight loss.

In recent years, nearly everyone has a watch or smartphone to track their activity and they are multiple applications that track and evaluate your dietary intake. The use of self-monitoring is often advocated when changing dietary and physical activity habits for adults with obesity. This monitor allows the dietary to judge the reasons for success and failure

A new study from 2020 aimed to explore the experiences of patients with obesity who used activity monitors while attending a weight-loss program. Patients in the study were obese ones with a BMI below 40 had weight-related comorbidities. The subject used one of three different activity monitors, Fitbit Zip, Mio Fuse, or Mio Slice. Interviews were performed with patients six months into the weight-loss program. Thematic analysis was applied when analyzing the data.

The subject’s experience with activity monitors was related to their adherence to the weight-loss program. Two main themes emerged from the dieter’s stories. Activity monitors visualize proof of effort or failure to change health habits, or activity monitors act as a positive or negative enforcer when incorporating change. Success was truly mixed, and not everyone was successful, and not every subject found the activity monitors helpful.

The bottom line: Activity monitors either strengthen or undermine attempts to change health habits when attending a weight-loss program. They are not a perfect panacea for all dieters and I would suggest that you consider other monitoring and weight loss measures for some patients. The findings suggest a need for more individualized weight-loss programs for patients with obesity. More research is needed.

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About the Author

I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.