SOURCE: Jakicic JM, Davis KK, Rogers RJ, et al. Effect of wearable technology combined with a lifestyle intervention on long-term weight loss: The IDEA randomized clinical trial. JAMA 2016;316:1161-1171.

For most of patients, long-term weight loss is modest, whether they use diet, exercise, pharmacotherapy, or a combination. Only bariatric surgical interventions provide consistent and sustained substantial weight loss (> 20%) for the majority of patients. In this age of technological advances, will sophisticated tools lead our patients to enhanced weight loss?

Jakicic et al enrolled overweight and obese adults (n = 471) in a randomized trial comparing traditional interventions, such as education about diet, exercise, and counseling, with traditional interventions plus gadgetry, which included wearable devices to monitor physical activity and a web-based interface to monitor diet and activity. The authors analyzed the effect of the added gadgetry at 24 months.

Although both groups enjoyed weight loss at the conclusion of the 24-month intervention, the group randomized to add-on gadgetry actually experienced less weight loss than the group that simply received traditional diet and exercise advice (3.6% vs. 6.2%). Previous shorter-term studies have been more supportive of wearable devices, but perhaps the gloss wears off in longer-term studies such as this one.