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Study: Wearable technology may not help you lose weight

Source: Fitbit

Millennials may want to stop relying solely on those fitness trackers if they plan on losing weight.

A new research study released Tuesday concluded that wearable technology may not offer an advantage to weight loss.

The clinical trial was conducted by the University of Pittsburgh and funded by the National Institute of Health. Researchers enrolled 471 overweight or obese (BMI 25-40) participants between the ages of 18 and 35 and completed the study in December 2014.

All participants were placed on a low-calorie diet, prescribed increases in physical activity and had group counseling sessions, the study said. After six months, researchers added telephone counseling sessions, text message prompts and access to study material on a website.

Also at the six-month mark, participants were randomized to either a "standard" intervention group, which self-monitored their diet and physical activity using only a website, or to an "enhanced" intervention group, where participants received a wearable technology device and web interface to monitor their diet and physical activity.

The "enhanced" intervention group was provided with and encouraged to wear the technology device on their upper arm for the following 18 months, while researches had access to the data.

At the conclusion of the 24-month study, the average weight-loss for participants without wearable technology was 5.9 kilograms, while the mean weight-loss for participants with it was only 3.5 kilograms.

Head researcher Dr. John Jakicic told CNBC he wants the public to understand that just because you buy a wearable technology device doesn't mean you'll be successful in your weight-loss goals.

"The biggest takeaway isn't 'Hey don't use them, they don't work,'" Jakicic said. "Maybe relying on these devices too much will hamper your effort. Before we recommend them to everybody, we need to say they're for some people, but for some they won't work well. We have more to understand."

Dr. Jakicic says his team hasn't divided up the data to see if tech devices are more helpful for people of a particular race or gender, but says he hopes to have an answer soon.