Are Fitbits Implicated in Body Image Concerns and Disordered Eating in Women?

Megan Gittus, Matthew Fuller-Tyszkiewicz, Haley E. Brown, Ben Richardson, Daniel B. Fassnacht, Georgina R. Lennard, Elise Holland, Isabel Krug

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Objective: Using a daily monitoring framework, we examined the psychological consequences of Fitbit self-tracking on state body satisfaction, disordered eating (DE; i.e., binge eating and dietary restraint), levels of exercise engagement, and motivations (appearance vs. fitness/health) in adult women. A further aim within the Fitbit group was to assess whether the level of steps achieved on 1 day would be associated with the state-based outcome measures on the subsequent day. Method: In total, 262 participants who had never used a wearable fitness self-tracking device were allocated to a Fitbit (n = 101) or control condition (n = 161). Participants provided baseline data on sociodemographics, eating pathology, and exercise and then completed a 10-day Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA) protocol assessing exercise amount and motives, body satisfaction, and DE symptoms via a mobile application. Those in the Fitbit condition wore a Fitbit over the entire assessment period. Results: The use of a Fitbit over a 10-day period had no significant effects on exercise behavior or body satisfaction compared to a control group. However, those in the Fitbit group were more likely to exercise to reach fitness goals and less likely to engage in dietary restraint and binge-eating behavior. Among participants in the Fitbit condition, steps achieved the previous day were not predictive of exercise engagement, body satisfaction, or DE symptoms on the subsequent day. Conclusions: Our study failed to link fitness self-tracking to body dissatisfaction and DE, at least in the early stages of use. Future research directions regarding alternative pathways through which self-tracking devices may exert negative influences are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalHealth Psychology
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 May 2020

Keywords

  • Body dissatisfaction
  • Disordered eating
  • Ecological momentary assessment
  • Fitbit
  • Wearable technology

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Are Fitbits Implicated in Body Image Concerns and Disordered Eating in Women?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this

    Gittus, M., Fuller-Tyszkiewicz, M., Brown, H. E., Richardson, B., Fassnacht, D. B., Lennard, G. R., Holland, E., & Krug, I. (2020). Are Fitbits Implicated in Body Image Concerns and Disordered Eating in Women? Health Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1037/hea0000881