Activity measuring devices like ‘fitbits’ that count how many steps you have taken seems to be coming more and more common but they do not appear to improve the chances of losing weight, recent research suggests.
A two-year long study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) included nearly 500 overweight volunteers who were asked to diet and take more exercise. Half were given a fitness tracker to help them keep tabs. This group had lost less weight than the other one by the end of the trial, the BBC reported.
The researchers found that over the course of the study, the volunteers who wore the fitness trackers had lost, on average, about 8lb (3.6kg). In comparison, the control group that were not given these devices lost about 13lb (5.9kg).
The study authors say this does not mean people should ditch the technology altogether, but adds neither should they put too much faith in them, at least as a slimming aid.
Lead researcher Dr John Jakicic said: “People have a tendency to use gadgets like these for a while and then lose interest with time as the novelty wears off.
“And we did see a drop off in the usage data as the study went on.”
Perhaps people who use fitness trackers became fixated on exercise goals and forgot to follow the diet advice, Dr Jakicic suggested.
“You might think to yourself, ‘I’m being so active I can eat a cupcake now’,” he said.
It could be, then, that wearable activity devices, like diets are just fads and will not deliver long-lasting results for those who want to manage their weight.
But this is where the National Council for Hypnotherapy and its trained clinical hypnotherapists can play a vital role. Managing weight loss is one of hypnotherapy’s major successes.
“Managing weight loss is one of the most effective results of hypnotherapy,” says the NCH, adding that rather than just reducing calories, hypnosis will look at the reasons why the person unconsciously eats.
Through sessions with the hypnotherapist, they can help you understand why and help to create new healthy self-management techniques.
Turning to exercise, the NCH says: “As well as stopping compulsive eating, hypnosis can increase your motivation for exercise. It can also help you reduce portion sizes so you lose weight healthily, steadily and for the long term.”
During the initial session, the hypnotherapist will ask questions about when you eat, what you eat, what triggers you to reach for food when you are not hungry, or how often you unconsciously polish off a packet of biscuits and avoid doing exercise.
“Then, working with you, they will put together a programme of treatment that will motivate you to exercise more and eat less,” says the NCH.
According to research company CCS Insight, UK sales of wearable devices – activity trackers and smart watches – are expected to reach five million, with 10 million devices expected to be in use before the end of 2016.
Dr David Ellis, a psychologist at Lancaster University, who has been researching the rise of consumer health wearables said the JAMA study was helpful because it focused on people who might not normally go out and buy an activity tracker.
“Fitness trackers are more likely to be bought by people who already lead a healthy lifestyle and want to monitor their progress. So it’s hard to say if they are useful for everybody,” he said.
Manufacturers say that the technology has moved on since the study, and that their own research suggests activity trackers can help with weight loss – alongside diet and exercise regimes.