FuelBands and Fitbits: Do Weight Loss Wristbands Work?

Since Nike’s FuelBand launched in February 2012, it has become more of a statement of fashion than fitness. There was a cool LED display and clever iPhone integration – how could anyone resist? Still, when it comes to wellness, getting fit and losing weight, can the FuelBand, or its rivals Fitbit and the Jawbone Up, improve your well-being in any way?


According to Technology Editor for Digital Spy Hunter Skipworth, who has worn a Nike FuelBand for the best part of a year, ‘provided you make the effort, Nike’s offering does help. The whole concept of ‘Fuel’, which basically uses a bigger set of numbers than calories to incentivise exercise, can become very addictive. Once you set yourself an achievable goal, you find yourself doing things like walking home or running an extra fifteen minutes as you try and collect more Fuel.’


Still, while Skipworth asserts that the FuelBand can certainly incentivise a bit of exercise, this is where his enthusiasm wanes, as it doesn’t do anything beyond that – unlike its competitors. ‘Fitbit and Jawbone offer much more detailed reports of your general well-being,’ says Skipworth. ‘While we are yet to spend a proper amount of time with the Jawbone Up, the Fitbit Flex has been sat on our wrist, opposite a Nike FuelBand on the other, for some time now. The data the Fitbit app provides is a touch more in-depth, ranging from calories burned, to steps taken and even your sleep pattern and what you have eaten. You do need to enter your diet, but it does mean you can realistically track how many calories you have taken in.’


So, that’s settled then; Fitbit it is, right? Perhaps not. ‘The problem is that most of what wearable fitness tech does is state the obvious,’ Skipworth notes. ‘Doing exercise and eating well can be done without the need for a reminder from an app. Then again, for those who struggle with self-discipline, they can definitely help. Accuracy is also a problem, as both the Nike and Fitbit failed to produce any genuinely convincing results. A three-hour drive can often result in the Nike being convinced you have done a five-mile run. Results then are always ballpark at best.’ He adds, ‘Still though, they are at least some sort of results and until now, there hasn’t really been a realistic way to track just how much exercise you do.’

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