The Fitbit Flex was issued to around 2,200 soldiers in the U.S army back in October 2013 in a pilot program called “Performance Triad”. The 180-day program was focused on raising activity levels, optimizing sleep, and awareness about nutrition.
Now three years later, British soldiers who face being discharged from the Army for failing to meet the required level of fitness will also be issued with a Fitbit.
It’s not clear what model of Fitbit will be issued to the soldiers, but it’s reported the devices cost around £100, to which the Fitbit Alta is the closest at £99.99. The Alta is one of Fitbit’s fashion statements, so the device issued is more likely to be the Charge HR which costs £119.99 (retail).
The British Army’s new fitness tracking program seems to mostly be addressing nutrition and overweight soldiers, as around 18-percent of the armed forces are overweight – it’s not clear whether they will all be getting a Fitbit. Over 32,000 soldiers failed basic fitness tests between 2011 and 2014, although according to the MoD, more than 95-percent of their personnel regularly pass fitness tests.
Fitbit fitness trackers count your steps taken, distance walked, and calorie output among other things. They also allow you to log what food you’re eating and calculate calorie intake with the Fitbit app.
They can be an effective tool for losing weight, but it’s not simply a case of strapping them to your wrist and “hey presto” you’re slim: You have to offset your calories burned during activities with the calorific intake logged in your food diary. Like any diet, this does take a degree of effort and discipline – two things that soldiers shouldn’t have a problem with.
The key ingredient to losing weight with a fitness tracker is the same as any diet.. Eat less.
Military menus which often see full English breakfasts, chips, sausages, puddings and other high-calorie foods served to soldiers are being highlighted as the problem. At this point I can’t help saying “what a load of cr*p”! We’re not talking about school dinners here! If soldiers are responsible enough to drive tanks and use high-powered weapons, they’re responsible enough to choose what they eat.
Along with wearable technology, several other measures have been taken in attempt to address the Army’s weight problem. These include the hiring of non-military fitness instructors, fat clubs, diet pills, and even liposuction in some cases.