Have Digital Monitors, Such as Fitbit, Run Their Course in Providing Benefits to Users?
By Harish Pai on 24 March 2017
The short answer is no, but it is much more complex than that. Wearable technology is evolving; users of these devices need to familiarize themselves with the regular updates that are provided from wearables and then respond accordingly to digital feedback. Only then can users fully reap the benefits digital monitors offer. There has been recent coverage on studies that show the lack of effectiveness of wearables for losing weight; however, the 2015 PACE-Lift trial study1 proved inconclusive. Although it continued for a good length of time, the sample size of the participants was fairly small (298 participants from 250 households), and the age range was very limited (60 to 75 years old). Digital monitors are likely more effective in varying age groups, and I believe that skews younger people. I think that users under 40 are more prone to the acceptance of these devices. There certainly is a generational gap to keep in mind, but users across all generations can be trained to correctly use wearables. It is also important to consider what would have happened to the health of participants if they had not used wearables. Although the study implies that wearables did not help individuals lose weight, what were the benefits? Did it improve their cardio health, maintain their weight or was it something else entirely? We have to look at an individual’s overall health ecosystem.
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1 Harris T, Kerry SM, Victor CR, et al. “A Primary Care Nurse-Delivered Walking Intervention in Older Adults: PACE-Lift (Pedometer Accelerometer Consultation Evaluation) Cluster Randomised Controlled Trial.” PLOS Medicine. Feb. 17, 2015.