Uptake of a Wearable Activity Tracker in a Community-Based Weight Loss Program

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Virginia Tech

The purpose of this thesis was to determine the proportion of participants enrolled in a community-based weight loss program that would accept and use a wearable device (Fitbit) if included as part of the program. A sample of 526 newly enrolled, adult, female weight loss program participants (BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2 ) were recruited. Participants were randomized to either a Fitbit experimental condition or no-Fitbit control condition, and received emailed information on program features. The experimental condition email also included a free Fitbit offer. The full sample (n=526) was 44±12.6 years old with a BMI of 37±6.2 kg/m2. The proportion of experimental sample (n=266) that accepted and synced was 50% and 23%, respectively. Twenty-two participants in the control condition (8%) also independently obtained and synced a Fitbit. Ninety-nine percent passively declined (did not respond to request for Fitbit color and size information). Those that declined were older (46±13.4 vs. 42±11.3 years of age, p=.001) and weighed less (214±38.9lbs. vs. 231±41.3lbs., p=.01) than those who accepted. Those in the experimental sample who synced were younger (42±10.0 vs. 45±13.2 years of age, p=.012), and weighed more (237±45.2lbs. vs. 217±38.1lbs., p=.002) than those who accepted but did not sync. This thesis provides preliminary support that 23% of participants will accept and sync a free wearable device. These data can be used for decision making, combined with effectiveness and cost data, and research on wearable activity trackers and community, incentive, and web-based weight loss.

Obesity, wearable devices, weight loss, incentives, RE-AIM, reach, social cognitive theory, behavioral science