Don’t expect Fitbits to improve health, help drop pounds

LONDON (AP) – Wearing a fitness tracker may help you keep tabs on how many steps you take. But researchers have found that the devices themselves – even with the lure of a cash reward – probably won’t improve your health.

Scientists say that although the activity trackers may boost the number of steps people take, it probably isn’t enough to help them drop pounds or improve overall health.

Researcher Eric Finkelstein says people won’t necessarily do more just because they find they’re not active enough. And he says “the novelty of having that information wears off pretty quickly.”

Finkelstein and colleagues tested the Fitbit Zip tracker in a group of 800 adults in Singapore, by dividing them into four groups. Of those people, more than half were overweight and obese and about one third were active.

After a year, 90 percent of participants had abandoned the device. The physical activity of the Fitbit wearers did not decline over the year as much as it did for those who were not given a tracker, but the higher activity level wasn’t enough to produce any improvements in weight, oxygen capacity, or blood pressure.

The maker of Fitbit says it’s “confident in the positive results” that it says “millions of users have seen from using Fitbit products.” The statement went on to say that the company is in the process of improving its trackers.

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