Do you gain weight before moving to the USA?

I’ve been using several Fitbit devices since a few years and I decided to stop using them in 2017. My feeling (like many people experienced before) is that wearable devices don’t work. Yes, you’ve read correctly: I was a big supporter of wearables, following the adage “what you can’t measure you can’t manage”, but not anymore.

Why do I write that? What works then? And what does that have to do with the title?

I used a wearable device for two purposes: be (more) active (and track it) and control/reduce weight. Sitting in an office most of the time, I noticed that I increased my activity because I wanted it, because somebody pushed me to exercise or because I had a new device. For instance, if one compares the number of steps I did one month before and one month after getting a new device (on April 8, 2016), one could see (below) a statistical difference between the two (p-value = 0.0003046).


But if one looks at weight over the whole year 2016, one would notice that there is no reduction that is clearly marked. Just using a Fitbit doesn’t mean you’ll lose weight …


For information, I manually entered weight data from the same scale all the time (i.e. I don’t have one of these new fancy, wifi-connected and expensive scales). But this data was stored in the Fitbit app/website. This also caused some trouble to retrieve, I’ll discuss that in a future post …

But, wait! It looks like there is something happening … as if the weight increased until the end of July then went down. By the way, at the end of July, I moved from Belgium (Europe) to the USA. And a statistical analysis showed that there is indeed a difference in weight before the move and after the move, with my weight before being higher than my weight after (p-value < 2.2e-16).


So the answer to the question is yes, you can gain weight before moving to the USA and, yes, you can lose weight after moving to the USA! 😉

The potential reasons for a higher weight before the move might be due to the increased stress related to the move (the organisation itself but also the professional perspectives, the impact on children, etc.) – stress is proven to be correlated to increased weight (example) – or also because I was feeling more confident in my previous job (rushing maybe less all around) or because my previous office moved to another floor and required less walking between meetings. However this contradicts many statements (example 1, example 2) that moving to the USA would increase your weight 😉

Feeling the absence of correlation between using a Fitbit and losing weight, I decided, as I mentioned earlier, that I will not use it anymore in 2017. Instead, I focused on weighting myself as often as possible (daily is not possible), using the same scale (but just any note-taking app, not the Fitbit app anymore). And it looks like the first few points of 2017 are already below the second part of 2016 and 2015 (although it’s probably not enough yet to exclude a novelty effect like when I got a new Fitbit).


What works, then, is probably the closer relationship between the act of measuring my our own weight and weight itself. I’ll continue the data collection to see if this is true …

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