No. Using a tracker does not make you fatter, and that is not what this study claims.
Lets start with the participants:
Among young adults with a BMI between 25 and less than 40
(so no already fit people here).
And this important little note:
If weight loss exceeded 6% during each 4-week period or if BMI was 22 or less, prescribed individual calorie intake was increased.
Accourding to the U.S Department of Health 22 is just under overweight (25 being overweight) and most people
trying to lose weight wouldn't suddenly increase their caloric intake if their bmi hit 22. So participants were
actively monitered and restricted in the type of weight loss they could obtain. This applied to both groups equally, but is
important to note.
During months 7 to 24, participants in the standard intervention group self-reported their daily MVPA using a website designed for this study, and this information was available to the staff during the intervention telephone contacts. Participants in the enhanced intervention group self-monitored their MVPA using the technology described below.
Of the 237 participants randomized to enhanced intervention, 191 participants received the wearable device that was a component of the intervention starting after month 6 and wore the device for 1 day or longer (median days worn, 170.0...On days that the device was worn, the median wear time was 241.1 min/d ...).
And part of the graph of results: (I couldn't actually save the whole thing as anything but powerpoint, go figure)
Makes it clear that those that were asked to self-report were significantly more diligent in their reporting then the group with the watches
were in their self-monitoring. This shows up in the amount of total exercise over the last 12 months, the caloric intake and in the final results.
Then there is the time period, it's funny because the data collection was finished in 2014, but the study initially started
in 2010. Now neither of those years seem very long ago, but in terms of this technoligy, those years describe generations for both hardware and software .See the 2nd gen Applewatch or latergen Fitbit for just how far and fast this tech has come in reliablity to monitor fitness in 2 years.
Finally this was a general study and the author himself stated it best when he said there were limitations to the study, namely:
Additional investigation is also needed to examine for whom wearable devices and other technologies may be effective within the context of weight loss efforts and how these technologies influence other components of weight loss, namely, eating behavior and dietary intake.
As with all tech, it's not a silverbullet one size fits all, it will motivate and push some, while others will still benefit more from the more traditional method of reporting their progress.
Study can be found here.