Doctors caution the use of wearable health devices

Lately, wearable tech is all the rage in helping people lose weight and keep track of their healthy routines.

These devices, which you normally wear on your wrist, measure everything from your heart rate to physical activity, temperature and even mental well-being.

Wearable tech is rapidly expanding. Experts say some 19 million devices will likely be sold this year.

Popular brands include Fitbit, Apple Watch, Jawbone, Garmin and Mio.

But is wearable tech really making you healthier?

It’s not an easy yes or no …

Research done by Lancaster University, the University of the West of England and Nottingham Trent dove into the rise of consumer health wearables.

The researchers said:

"Devices are marketed under the premise that they will help improve general health and fitness. But the majority of manufacturers provide no empirical evidence to support the effectiveness of their products."

Around a third of users stop wearing these devices after six months, and half after one year.

Image Credit: Fitbit Surge & Apple Watch Sport

Dr. David Ellis of Lancaster University said:

"For chronic conditions, wearables could effortlessly provide detailed longitudinal data that monitors patients’ progress without the need to involve more sophisticated, uncomfortable and expensive alternatives.

"For instance, it is possible to identify the severity of depressive symptoms based on the number of conversations amount of physical activity and sleep duration using a wearable wristband and smartphone app."

Long term benefits of such devices have yet to be proven in research.

What the research is finding is that these devices are not very accurate in their data.

The researchers said:

"The reliability and validity of wearable devices is also concerning. Recent comparisons between various wearables for tracking physical activity showed large variations in accuracy between different devices — with error margins of up to 25%."

That’s a very large number when it comes to your health, which leads me to agree with doctors when they urge caution with these devices.

We would love to know the experience Uncommon Wisdom Daily readers have had with wearable tech.

Have you noticed positive benefits to your health, or has your wearable tech been a disappointment?

Please let us know by leaving a comment.

Happy and healthy investing,

Brad Hoppmann

Your thoughts on “Doctors caution the use of wearable health devices”

  1. I was given one for my 75th birthday. I moved and exercised but it got me going even more. I have a bunch of friends and my wife in my list. We all challenge each other. I am 75 and try to walk 5-10 miles and climb 100 stories, for 1,000 feet. Now tell me that that does not do any good. Why even write articles like this? It has been a way of life but even more challenging. We are 75 and 70 and wear our Fitbits. It is working.

  2. Most of the devices I have tried do not taste very good, are extremely hard to digest, and did awful things to the blades in my blender. I must admit, though, they do have a long shelf life and require no refrigeration. Haven’t done much for my overall health.

  3. it is important to note that most people start exercising and stop after about six months to a year which would explain the non continuous of the devices. even if the devices are not completely accurate a person only has one device on their risk to monitor with. The device’s inaccuracy will be consistent so it can still be a measure to rely on. I believe people wear wearables more to be trendy and add to the fun of having something new to concentrate on.

  4. I use an IPhone app called MyNetDiary to track what I eat every day as well as another call MapMyFitness for exercise tracking and they work together to keep me aware of the food choices I make. Just being aware has helped me lose about 10 lbs over the holidays when I usually gain 10.

  5. Don’t use doctor’s statements as evidence that wearables are no good. They are notoriously resistant to anything compromising their status quo. When Khosla spoke at Stanford Med on the value of big data for diagnosis, the response was 95% negative. We are in the beginning of wearables, they weren’t taught in med school, they are coming from tech world and doctors haven’t figured out how to code for them yet so they are probably earning $0 from them.

    All that will be changing and soon. This quote explains:

    “Wearable technology is a wonderful gift for the rapidly changing world of accountable care. The devices connect patients into the caregiving system in a way that has previously only been possible during in-hospital care. The streams of data that wearables make possible allow the healthcare organization to leverage the emerging cognitive tools now offered by IoT technology leaders like IBM. The combination of big data and these new analytic systems will inform and assist caregivers with all aspects of the patients life in an immediate, actionable manner.” from

  6. I had a Nike Fuel band which would not count my steps correctly, although it would for the salesman. It was replaced, the band broke, replaced again and still the step count was totally unreliable so I gave up on it.

  7. I’ve been wearing my Fitbit Charge for a month now and find that it monitors my movements effortlessly and encourages me to get up and move more. I’m loosing weight, have more energy and feel better. I’m 74 years old and set the exercise perimeters very realistically – don’t want to do anything too strenuous!

  8. I’ve recently started wearing a fitbit. It serves as a reminder for me to be more active and it is interesting to see what the trends are over time. It is also fun to participate in Challenges with my friends who also have a fitbit.

  9. My journey with these devices began last summer when my employer instituted a fitness component to our health coverage (“Do these things, or you won’t get to choose from the full range of health care plans”). One of the options was to log 285,000 steps in a period between mid-June and the end of August. If a participant bought a Fitbit device, he could link up his account to the company wellness site and have the steps directly uploaded instead of having to manually enter them.

    I chose to embrace the challenge. I have been working in 10,000 steps a day by walking around my neighborhood, dancing, and (as a last resort) a treadmill. I’m on my 152nd consecutive day of at least 10,000 steps. In terms of my health, I dropped about 15 pounds to get from nearly obese (BMI 29.5) to simply overweight (BMI 27.5) pretty quickly, but weight loss has since plateaued.

  10. Research evidence strongly supports the premise that the tracking of a parameter alone produces behavioral change.

  11. I haven’t got mine to work yet except that I can recharge it, which it needs on a daily basis to keep from running down the battery completely. It is a cheap GNC pro track ultra.

  12. I have a Fitbit One and have been using it for over a year and a half. I don’t let it rule me or live by Fitbit targets. Just want to know what I’ve done during the day. It’s great for sleep tracking and after some adjustments tracking a persons Steps. Sometimes mixes steps and stairs up in its calculations. So it’s not perfect. It’s helped me adjust my sleep cycle, keep better track of my weight. My doctor just told me to get up and move more to help with all the pain that I live with. The Fitbit helps me track how much I’ve done in a day.

  13. I have been wearing the Fitbit for 7 months. It is accurate for steps taken daily, not so accurate for stairs climbed, and I have no way to measure whether the calories used is accurate. More positives than negatives. I assume the technology will continue to improve, and eventually more people than not will be using a “wearable”.

  14. What are, if any, the downside effects of wearing an insulin pump for Tyupe 1 Diabetes?

  15. Brad, no one totes their jacket over their shoulder unless they’re running for political office.
    When are you announcing?

    Jim Yates

  16. I am 58 years old and wear a fit bit surge and love it. I know it is not 100% accurate but it is better than guessing. I lift weights 3 days per week and do hiit 3 days a week and the watch keeps me up to date on my heart beats per minute so I can hit my zone. I also use it as a guide for how many steps I take during the day and my sleep patterns. I just take off 10% of all readings to be more accurate.

  17. My aluminum foil cap keeps getting wrinkled when I sleep. Hopefully there will be a better one coming out soon, maybe with wifi! 🙂

  18. Anything electronic worn on your body over time is harmful. EMF’s are not good for you.

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