Pedometer-based programs result in modest weight loss

Clinical Question

Do pedometers facilitate weight loss?

Bottom Line

Using pedometers to guide physical activity, even when not accompanied by dietary interventions, promotes modest weight loss among sedentary and obese or overweight individuals. (LOE = 2a)


Richardson CR, Newton TL, Abraham JJ, Sen A, Jimbo M, Swartz AM. A meta-analysis of pedometer-based walking interventions and weight loss. Ann Fam Med 2008;6(1):69-77.  [PMID:18195317]

Study Design

Meta-analysis (randomized controlled trials)




Outpatient (any)


These authors systematically reviewed multiple databases looking for controlled trials or quasi-experimental studies that assessed the effects of pedometers but not dietary interventions in sedentary, overweight, or obese adults. In addition to the database search, the authors also contacted experts to find additional studies. Two investigators independently assessed the methodologic quality of the included studies with discrepancies resolved by consensus. Only 9 studies with a total of 307 participants met their inclusion criteria. Four of the studies were randomized trials. Several studies included behavioral therapy interventions along with pedometer use. The studies varied in duration from 4 weeks to 1 year. In all but 1 study the participants lost weight (range = 0.5 kg - 3.7 kg); including the negative study, the mean weight loss was 1.27 kg. Not surprisingly, the authors also found that the longer the study, the greater the weight loss. They did not find weight loss to be associated with study quality. Finally, the authors used 3 different methods and did not find any evidence for publication bias.