Fitbit Versa Smartwatch

What’s Hot or Not for 2019 in Fitness, Nutrition, and Health

Healthy lifestyles are a popular concept. But popular culture is fickle about this subject. As soon as something captures our attention in this realm, it quickly fades from view. So as we plunge into a new year, let’s take a quick look at what’s hot and what’s not, according to the culture that surrounds us.

1. Smartwatches Hot / Fitness Bands Not

Remember PDAs – the Apple Newton and Palm Pilot? They were wildly popular and then quickly gave way to smartphones as soon as the iPhone showed up. Likewise, the iconic Fitbit fitness bands are headed into the dustbin of history. Smartwatches are taking over.

The market research firm IDC says wearable device sales will grow by double digits for the next five years. That growth is all about smartwatches, led by the Apple Watch. Fitness trackers are going nowhere. Fitbit’s first smartwatch – the Ionic – was a dud. But now its Versa is getting good reviews. Even Fitbit’s Charge 3 is looking more like an affordable smartwatch than the pure fitness band that its predecessors were.

So perhaps Fitbit is ready to move on from defining the now obsolete fitness bands. It might just survive as a strong follower to Apple.

2. Protein Hot / Carbs Not

We are still hating carbs. Americans are consuming less flour, grains, and sweeteners. But we’re making it up by consuming more meat, eggs, and nuts. Nevermind that one of the top nutrition research papers – the DIETFITS RCT – of the year found no advantage for a low-carb diet.

We’re still supposed to hate and fear carbs. And we have to eat something, so we’re loading up on protein.

3. Cannabis Hot / Tobacco Not

Public health seems to have turned the corner on tobacco. Cigarette smoking is at an all time low. And we’re in the midst of a moral panic about vaping among youth. Nobody wants to see that take off, even if it seems to be killing off the more dangerous hazards of cigarette smoke.

So we need another vice and trendspotters tell us that cannabis will fit the bill nicely. It has a warmer, fuzzier image than big tobacco. So naturally, big tobacco wants a piece of the action. No doubt about it. Soon we’ll have ample reasons to start hating big cannabis.

4. Digestive Health Hot / Cleanses Not

Thank God, those absurd detox cleansing diets seem to be fading into the sunset. Evacuating your bowels does not detoxify your body. That’s the job your liver and kidneys do quite well.

Taking the place of the detox fad is something that seems a bit less pernicious – digestive health. Who doesn’t want that? We’ll see. No doubt hucksters will fill this space with overpriced nonsense. But the concept is not a bad one.

5. Lifestyle Hot / Dieting Not

Here’s one shift we can wholeheartedly endorse: choosing a healthy lifestyle over short-term dieting. Diet is such a bad four-letter word that WW (formerly Weight Watchers) had to change its name to protect its innocence. In his new book, Giles Yeo does a fine job of explaining what science has to say about a healthier lifestyle. Dieting might not be dead, but it’s certainly on the ropes.

For a taste of how popular culture might put a twist on these aspirations, take a look at  this story from the New York Times. We have an interesting year ahead.

Fitbit Versa Smartwatch, photograph © Fitbit, Inc

Subscribe by email to follow the accumulating evidence and observations that shape our view of health, obesity, and policy.


January 2, 2019

2 Responses to “What’s Hot or Not for 2019 in Fitness, Nutrition, and Health”

  1. January 02, 2019 at 9:23 am, David Brown said:

    The therapeutic benefits of cannabis are many. Excerpt:

    Diet is the main cause of premature death and disability in the United States. The modern western diet is proinflammatory and obesogenic. Diseases associated with inflammation and obesity include cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus (DM), Alzheimer’s disease, mood disorders, autoimmune disorders, liver and kidney disease, and musculoskeletal disabilities. A significant dietary factor contributing to these health problems is an increased ratio of omega-6 (linoleic acid, LA) to omega-3 (α-linolenic acid, ALA) fatty acids, especially in the context of a high glycemic load and reduced physical activity.”

    “Recent reviews show that dysregulation of the eCB system plays a major role in development of obesity and metabolic disorders, and strongly implicate the elevated omega-6/omega-3 ratio as a primary cause of this dysregulation.”

    Using cannabis for weight control is expensive. Better to reduce both linoleic and arachidonic acid intake.

    • January 02, 2019 at 10:34 am, Ted said:

      David, thanks for your comments. But it’s important to note that the most likely effect of cannabis use is to increase adiposity and weight. It’s complicated and well-controlled studies are lacking. Nonetheless, if cannabis has any effects on obesity, its use will probably make obesity worse, not better.