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Self-Weighing and the Scale: What’s the Weight-Loss Research Show

Posted Apr 19 2013 5:00am

The scale, oh the scale. What adventures await? Will I or won’t I be what I think I am? Should I or shouldn’t I today; or should I wait until the end of the week?

The scale stands as the one of the most fearsome weight-loss activities. You can’t wait to get on and see how you are doing; yet you don’t want to get on to see how you are doing. There’s avoidance of the scale and there’s compulsive use of the scale (multiple times a day). There’s great ambivalence and indecision and conflict, lots of conflict.

What is best to do about the scale? Should you avoid it entirely, taking the position that knowing how much you weigh and how much weight you lost doesn’t make any difference to the weight-loss process? Should you weigh yourself every day, taking the position that knowing your weight and how much you’ve lost does indeed affect the process of weight loss. Should you take a middle position? Weigh yourself on occasion, like once a week, or every two weeks, or once a month, because this is what will help you lose your unwanted weight the most.

Here are some of the research findings.

Study 1 . Daily weighing helped keep weight off once weight was lost. It promoted dietary restraint, overall restraint, decreased depressed mood, and decreased bingeing. 

Study 2 . Greater frequency of weighing was associated with greater twenty-four month weight loss and less weight gain.

Study 3 . After 6 months of weekly weigh-ins, there was an average weight loss of 5 percent or more of pre-weight-loss weight.

Study 4 . Daily weighing led to increased weight gain for people who work especially hard at controlling their weight day in and day out.

There are many more research studies on the value of frequent versus less frequent use of the scale. The preponderance of results point to more frequent weighing as being a good technique for fostering both weight loss and maintenance of lost weight.


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