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Another healthy intention that backfires

If you are trying to lose weight, you might want to take off that Fitbit! …or at least think about it differently.

Results are in from a two-years study at U Penn, where researchers randomly assigned 470 participants to undertake a weight loss program of either diet and exercise alone, or with an added fitness tracker. In both groups participants were asked to cut calories, increase exercise, and attend weekly group counseling meetings.

Those NOT using fitness trackers lost, on average, 13 pounds. Those using fitness trackers lost only 7.7 pounds on average. Doh! Isn’t knowledge power?!

The study could not provide an explanation for this significant finding, but the lead researcher suggests that perhaps a fitness tracker makes wearers feel deserving of an edible reward when they meet goals.

This is reminiscent of the finding years ago that single serving snack packs led people to eat more, because they didn’t feel the same guilt as when they opened an entire box of snacks. It appears that our feelings of guilt and/or entitlement to edible treats is a tricky factor in weight loss.

At any rate, this is great info for helping us avoid wasting money and effort. If you have a fitness tracker and aren’t happy with your weight, you might try ditching it and/or changing your expectations of edible treats that you earn. If you want to read the original JAMA article, it’s here: http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2553448.

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