Background

Wearable technology has gained traction within consumer electronics in the healthcare field. However, little is known regarding the effect of wearable technology in the bariatric surgery field. Here, we explore the benefits of wearable activity trackers in patients undergoing bariatric surgery.

Methods

Participants in this study were randomized into treatment and control groups. Patients in the treatment group received a WithingsTM activity tracker wristwatch and a smart scale 2 weeks after surgery. They were then instructed to use the activity tracker wristwatch daily and the scale weekly for 6 months. Weight and number of steps were recorded and collected from the WithingsTM website. Demographics data, body mass index (BMI), and percent of excess weight loss (%EWL) were obtained preoperatively, 3 months, and 6 months postoperatively. All analyses were conducted using SPSS 22.0 and Graphpad Prism 7.0.

Results

47 patients participated in the study. 24 patients were randomly assigned to the treatment group and 23 were assigned to the control group. Patients in the treatment arm were younger than those in the control arm (36.63 ± 1.47 vs. 43.3 ± 2.21 years old, p=0.0147). No significant differences were found between treatment and control patients in type of surgery (69.57% vs. 65.22% gastric bypass, p=0.7531), sex (78.26% vs. 82.61% female, p=0.7107), or preoperative BMI (49.95 ± 1.9 vs. 47.14 ± 2.1 kg/m2, p=0.3233). Patients in the treatment arm had a greater %EWL (57.7 ± 3.3%) at 6 months after surgery than patients in the control arm (52.7 ± 3.8%), however the difference did not reach statistical significance (p=0.3373). Among patients in the treatment group, there was a statistically significant correlation between weight loss achieved and number of steps (r=0.51, p=0.0181). Patients who used the device actively and recorded a high number of steps (>500,000 steps) over the 6 months of the study witnessed greater weight loss than patients who recorded a low number of steps (65.5 ± 4.8% vs. 49.1 ± 2.7% EWL, p=0.0096). Similarly, patients who used the device actively lost more weight than patients in the control group (65.5 ± 4.8% vs. 52.7 ± 3.8% EWL, p=0.0466).

Conclusions

Wearable technology has the potential to improve the health outcomes of patients undergoing bariatric surgery, suggesting further involvement of wearable technology in the field of bariatric surgery.