Health And Technology Need A Reboot

By Chuck Norris

February 24, 2017 6 min read

Among the many weapons in today's battle of the bulge, probably none is more visible than wearable fitness devices. They're everywhere. According to leading statistic company Statista, the global wearables market is projected to reach $19 billion dollars in 2018, more than ten times what it was just five years ago. From 2010 to 2015, one leading company, Fitbit, has seen its revenue increase from just over $5 million to more than $1.8 billion, as the health and fitness wearable devices market continues its climb as one of the most promising segments of the wearable industry.

Just how effective are these devices in helping the wearers lose weight? It's hard to say, as various study results have proved to be inconclusive. That is, except for one. Called the IDEA trial and conducted by the University of Pittsburgh, it involved more than 470 adults between the ages of 18 and 35. All of them were put on a low-calorie diet, had group counseling sessions and were advised to increase their physical activity. About half were also given wearable tech devices that monitored their activity and connected to a website to provide feedback as the experiment went along.

As reported by Aaron E. Carroll of the New York Times, at the end of the two years, those without access to the wearable technology lost an average of 13 pounds. Those with the wearable technology lost an average of 7.7 pounds. Meaning, fitness devices did not prove helpful in losing weight. In the IDEA trial, those who employed the technology were also no more physically active than those who didn't and they also weren't any more fit.

Given the size of the health and fitness wearable market, this study is sure to be disputed. As Carroll also points out, in this industry it has become collectively understood that we need to take 10,000 steps a day, yet there is no evidence that hitting this arbitrary goal is going to be life-changing for those who meet it. That wearable technology encourages fitness, tracks physical activity and reminds the wearer to stand up every so often is a good thing. But what they apparently are not doing is making people exercise more. And, if your goal is weight loss, strapping one on is not in itself a solution.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention the rate of obesity in the United States is continuing its upward march. More than one-third of U.S. adults have obesity as do an estimated one in five school-aged children (ages 6-19). Finding that right mix of exercise and diet is a critical element in attacking the problem in the quest to preserve and restore good health.

Here's a novel thought: In achieving the goal of enhancing physical activity, maybe it's time we start relying less on technology and started making more effort to escape technology's grasp. Let's face it, we spend an inordinate amount of time focusing on what we expect technology to do for us while spending absolutely no attention on what technology is doing to us.

Just the thought of cutting yourself off from your smartphone, laptop, computer or other technological device creates high anxiety for many folks. It's estimated that 90 percent of adults and teenagers now own smartphones, and the number is on the rise. Consequently, we are seemingly never disconnected from our devices. Technology has rewired us and technologies believed to make our lives easier, continue to make our lives more complicated. Many clergy also believe that, over the last few decades, technology has pulled us farther and farther from our spiritual source.

"We're too busy being dazzled or disturbed by the programming to notice what's going on inside our heads," says Nicholas Carr, author of The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains.

"Technology is not just a tool, it's an inducement," adds Albert Borgmann, Regents Professor of Philosophy at the University of Montana and author of Technology and the Character of Contemporary Life. "And it's so strong that for the most part people find themselves unable to refuse it. To proclaim it to be a neutral tool flies in the face of how people behave."

In essence, they are saying we are not the same people we were even a decade ago. We are constantly distracted. With the advance of digital technologies, we have seen our measured attention spans decreased from 12 minutes to five minutes in just the past 10 years. The average person who conducts 90 percent of their reading online (an ever-growing population) spends no more than two minutes on a webpage. If a website doesn't grab a person in 30 seconds or less, they click away. Christina Crook, author of Dusting off the Dictionary: Why Definitions Matter, believes that the internet is now reaching the level of being an oppressive aspect of human life.

The concept of "volume management" is believed by many who have studied the problem as at least a step in the right direction.

Write to Chuck Norris ([email protected]) with your questions about health and fitness. Follow Chuck Norris through his official social media sites, on Twitter @chucknorris and Facebook's "Official Chuck Norris Page." He blogs at To find out more about Chuck Norris and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at

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