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Activity trackers may undermine weight loss efforts


Wearable activity monitors can count your steps and track your movements, but they don’t, apparently, help you lose weight. In fact, you might lose more weight without them.


A fascinating new study by the University of Pittsburgh Physical Activity and Weight Management Research Center found dieting adults who wore activity monitors for 18 months lost significantly less weight over that time than those who did not.


The results suggest that activity monitors may not change our behavior in the way we expected, and raise interesting questions about the tangled relationships between exercise, eating, our willpower and our waistlines.


The volunteers who had not worn activity monitors were, on average, about 6 kgs lighter now than two years ago. Those who had worn the monitors, however, weighed only about 3.6 kgs less than at the start.


The data from the monitors show that those wearing the technology generally exercised less than the other group.


It is possible that when those wearing the trackers realized they would not reach their daily exercise goal, they simply gave up, leading to relatively low caloric expenditure on those days, and less weight loss overall than among those not using the technology.


The people using the monitors may also have assumed that, in some roundabout way, the technology removed responsibility from them for monitoring their energy intake.


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