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Consumer Reports: Fitness trackers and weight loss

Posted at 7:31 AM, Dec 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-26 07:31:09-05

Fitness trackers are all the rage these days. But a new study - one of the biggest and longest to date - suggests that for some, they probably won't help you lose weight. Consumer Reports explains what fitness trackers are actually good for, and reveals the top choices in its exclusive ratings.

Trainer, Amanda Duerk, used a fitness tracker to help her lose 40 pounds of post-pregnancy baby weight.

"After I got to my goal weight, I stopped looking at it because I didn't need it anymore," Duerk said.

But what if you don't necessarily need to lose weight?

A 2016 study tracked 800 adults for a year. Most wore Fitbits and logged between 50 and 70 thousand steps a week. But after just six months none of them showed improvement with weight or blood pressure. And after a year 90 percent of them stopped using their Fitbit altogether.

"Taking steps alone isn't enough to help you lose weight. You're going to have to pair that with an intense exercise regimen, and also with a healthy diet," said Consumer Reports Health Editor Julia Calderone.

Just like Amanda did. She ate a proper diet, hit the gym and used her fitness tracker to help her measure her activity.

Consumer Reports tests fitness trackers for step count and heart rate monitoring accuracy, water resistance and ease of use and pairing. As well as readability in both bright and low light.

Consumer Reports' top rated trackers - the Fitbit Surge for $250 and the Tom Tom Spark Cardio Plus Music for $130. Another highly rated tracker, the Garmin VivoSmart HR for $150.

Amanda doesn't use hers anymore because she says she is in a maintenance phase.

"I feel like it's a short term tool. It's not like a forever tool," Duerk said.

Consumer Reports reached out to the makers of Fitbit who said, "Fitbit continues to invest in the development of new devices and innovative motivational tools and social features to further enhance user engagement and help individuals achieve their health and fitness goals."