Health

How Good Are Fitness Trackers When It Comes To Counting Calories?

You probably shouldn’t trust your wearable device to provide accurate statistics about how many calorie consumption you’re burning regarding the fresh paper released this week in JAMA Internal Medicine. The research demonstrates when it comes to calculating energy expenses, many leading fitness trackers can be way off, per day with a margin of error of about 200 calories from fat, with some over-calculating yet others under-calculating. The analysts wanted to see how the technology organized next to different ways of recording caloric burn off.

All 12 devices were worn simultaneously at arbitrarily chosen positions on the wrist, chest and waist. In the metabolic chamber test, the Withings Pulse O2 and Jawbone UP24 underestimated expenditure by around 270 calories each. Both Omron devices, on the other hand, overestimated calories by about 200 calories. Fitbit Flex also overestimated the calorie count number.

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The Panasonic and Epson devices were closest to the actual value. In the urine test, every single device underestimated calorie output, by margins ranging from 69 calorie consumption (the Omron Active Style Pro) to 590 calories from fat (the Jawbone UP24). The analysis mentioned a few factors that could have influenced the findings, the first being the fact that participants couldn’t wear the trackers on a regular basis.

Additionally, the study only tested a healthy weight human population. Future studies will include overweight participants as well, according to the researchers. “Use of health-related apps may cause little risk in healthy people if the information gathered is not used for medical decision-making, but these apps should still undergo basic testing for accuracy,” the paper had written. These results aren’t the first to call out inaccuracies.

A 2015 research led by researchers from the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and RTI International, zeroed in on Jawbone and Fit bit and discovered that the trackers are better at measuring some metrics than others. “Wearable devices that track physical activity, rest, and other habits are growing in popularity significantly.

We conducted this review to understand how accurate these devices are.” said Robert Furberg, PhD, senior clinical informatics at RTI International and co-author of the study. Overall, the systematic review indicated higher validity of step counting, inconclusive findings for distance and physical activity, and lower validity for calories and sleep.