Think Tracking Device Will Help You Lose Weight? Think Again


Wearing a tracking device won't really help you to lose weight.

Not that I didn't already know that.  I clipped a Weight Watchers' Active Link to my bathing suit in the summer and swam my laps, and to my shorts when I went running, all to find out how much food I could eat for all the exercise I was doing.  It turned out that I burned a lot of "points," how you count calories for Weight Watchers.

But I didn't lose much weight.  In fact, some weeks I gained.  All to say that exercise only contributes about 15% (according to experts) to weight loss.

No matter.  I accidentally left the device on my bathing suit when I washed it and though it survived the washing machine, the dryer was another story entirely.

I figured I didn't really need it.  I already knew how much I could eat if I didn't want to gain, and some weeks I could, and some weeks I couldn't.

Apparently that's all been discovered in a new study by researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine, the Penn Medicine Center for Health Care Innovation, and the LDI Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics at the University of Pennsylvania.

The study found that though many tech companies are jumping into the market, maybe they should think twice.  There may be a disconnect between the assumed benefits and actual outcomes with these devices, reports.

“The notion is that by recording and reporting information about behaviors such as physical activity or sleep patterns, these devices can educate and motivate individuals toward better habits and better health,” wrote authors Mitesh S. Patel, MD, MBA, MS, David A. Asch, MD, MBA, and Kevin G. Volpp, MD, PhD, all of whom are faculty at Penn and attending physicians at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center, at “The gap between recording information and changing behavior is substantial, however, and while these devices are increasing in popularity, little evidence suggests that they are bridging the gap.”

That's pretty much what I found out.  To make me get really serious (I've only lost 20 pounds in three years!), it took getting sick.  For several days I was down with a really bad cold and I lost my appetite.  I lost a couple of pounds and since my appetite was still not back to normal (hooray), I was able to continue on my path of eating less.

Did I need a device to do that?  No.  My body told me.  And maybe that's what we should all be doing, listening to our bodies, not an object on our wrist.


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