Can wearable fitness trackers really help you lose weight?

Aberdeen University researchers are investigating the use of wearable technology to help with weight loss. The study is part of a project to develop and test a new product, which is not yet available to the general market. The wearable makes use of advanced, state-of-the-art technology and research to capture accurate data for analysis, and boasts a sophisticated digital health platform to help empower people to make healthier decisions.

“Although research is in its infancy, these popular devices show promise for improving health. They offer new ways to engage people and may help us transform the ways in which we can deliver health services for weight loss and/or management to prevent disease,” explains Dr Heather Morgan, a health technologies expert at the University of Aberdeen.

“Conflicting studies have discussed the effectiveness of wearables in promoting weight loss and whether they are a sustainable solution, but there has been very little in-depth research carried out in terms of what users will and won’t find acceptable and what features they like best or find most helpful.”

Research has repeatedly shown that being overweight not only impacts on quality of life and well-being, but puts people at higher risk of being obese and developing related long-term diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers. The results of the 2015 Scottish Health Survey has shown the severity of overweight adults in Scotland, reporting that 65% are overweight, with only 63% meeting the physical activity guidelines set out by the Government, and women being less likely to achieve these than men.

The study aims to recruit 20 women, aged 25-54, to explore how fitness trackers can assist goal setting. Volunteers who participate in the study will be provided with a wristband, heart rate clip and smartphone application for four weeks, which will track the volunteers’ goals and provide a personalised exercise programme, feedback, coaching and guidance. The researchers hope to have preliminary data ready for publication late summer.

Those interested in volunteering for the study should contact Heather Morgan (h.morgan@abdn.ac.uk) or Kelly Buchan (k.buchan.15@aberdeen.ac.uk) for more information.