A new study has linked the use of smartwatches to weight and BMI loss

A recent study has connected the use of smartwatches and other health wearables to weight loss and BMI decrease in overweight or obese people.

At Gadgets & Wearables, we’re big fans of our smartwatches and other fitness gadgets. That’s because it makes fitness enjoyable and we know it helps us achieve our goals of living a healthy lifestyle. A new study has shown the value of such technology in promoting healthy weight loss.

The study appeared in the prestigious British Journal of Sports Medicine (DOI: 10.1136/bjsports-2020-103594). If you’re interested in learning more, you can download the entire study for free.

The research

Excess weight is a problem for many of us. Fast food and a lack of free time are frequently cited as contributing factors. However, it’s also possible that it’s inherited. Regardless of the causes, the World Health Organization estimates that 2 billion people worldwide are overweight. Yes, two billion dollars! Adult obesity has already overtaken malnutrition as the leading cause of death in the United States.

Obesity affects 650 million people out of a total population of 2 billion. Individuals with a BMI of more than 30 kg/m2 are considered obese. This group, in particular, appears to profit greatly from the use of a fitness tracker or smartwatch.

The researchers analysed the findings of over 30 different clinical trials published between 2007 and 2020 and compiled the information. This included papers from the PubMed, MEDLINE, Scopus, Web of Science, Central Register of Controlled Trials, EMBASE, and PsycINFO databases, as well as papers from the Central Register of Controlled Trials, EMBASE, and PsycINFO databases.

Nearly 2300 people who were overweight or obese participated in this research, which looked at the impact of commercially accessible wearables on weight loss. Wearables ranged from a high-quality pedometer to fitness bands, smart watches, and more.

The study also investigates the relationship between wearable technology and health issues such as cancer, type 2 diabetes, coronary artery disease, metabolic syndrome, high cholesterol, and sleep apnea.

Participants in the numerous clinical trials used Fitbit, SenseWear Armband, Jawbone, Samsung Charm, FitMeter, Withings Pulse, and Polar smartwatches. The time spent under observation ranged from four weeks to a year.

The researchers used six different comparators to arrive at their conclusions.

  • Typical treatment
  • physical activity on its own.
  • There are no other components except commercial wearable fitness trackers.
  • There are no other components other than research-grade pedometers.
  • Commercial fitness monitors, diets, and/or counseling are used in tandem.
  • Pedometers, diet, and/or counseling in combination with research-grade pedometers

Participants were encouraged to set daily objectives based on steps and to aim for 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical exercise per week. The latter is the US government’s minimal baseline recommendation for active people.

The outcomes

According to the findings, all types of wearable gadgets assisted people in losing weight and lowering their BMI. The best results came during periods of more than 12 weeks.

Surprisingly, research-grade pedometers gave the best results on their own. Individuals who carried one of these shed 4.4 kg on average. Those who used commercial fitness monitors lost 2.76 kg on average.

It’s tough to fathom why this is the case. Pedometers simply keep track of how many steps you take. With all the bells and whistles of fitness bands and smartwatches, it’s possible that people are becoming overly preoccupied.

In terms of BMI, the results are likewise favorable to wearable technology. A BMI decrease of roughly 2 was achieved using both pedometers and more advanced wearables. Those that used pedometers and combined them with diets and/or counseling were the top performers. They dropped their BMI by 3.4 points.

The study’s result is straightforward

Our findings suggest that commercial health wearable devices are effective PA intervention components for body weight and BMI reduction in individuals with overweight/obesity and chronic comorbidities who do not receive any other interventions, and that interventions lasting at least 12 weeks are more effective than interventions lasting less than 12 weeks in achieving this goal.

The researchers said clinicians and health professionals working with patients with overweight or obesity and chronic comorbidities should engage with them to create daily physical activity objectives. They should also think about adopting commercially accessible wearables to track and remind people of their objectives.

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