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Is a Scale Your Best Weight-Loss Buddy?
Conventional wisdom proven unwise; scale use delivers a pound-shedding edge 03/11/2016 By Macaela McKenzie and Craig Weatherby
It's not news that losing weight can be a real struggle.

So scientists keep looking for ways to make the battle of the bulge less stressful and more successful.

Some counselors claim that scales make overweight clients anxious and demotivate those who don't see weight loss.

But that view is contradicted by a good deal of clinical research, and seems to rest on intuition rather than evidence.

Bathroom scales as weight-control buddies
Most of the available research shows that regular weigh-ins help people lose pounds ... and keep them off.

For example, a 2014 Cornell study found that the more frequently dieters weighed themselves, the more weight they lost.

Further, if dieters went more than a week without weighing in, they gained weight.

A follow up Cornell study lasted for two years and involved 162 men and women.

That study also found benefits from frequent weigh-ins, plus another promising finding.

Not only did participants who regularly stepped on the scale drop more weight, they also kept it off over time.

That's a particularly significant finding, because 40 percent of weight loss is typically regained within a year.

The results of these and other studies suggest that weighing yourself daily – and tracking the results – builds awareness of the link between your eating habits and your weight.

However, conscious participation in such studies could easily cause people to eat less and exercise more, thereby muddying the scientific waters. 

So the results of a novel study from Britain's University of Manchester provide particularly persuasive evidence that regular scale use helps people shed pounds. 

First study using Internet-connected smart scales
The British team partnered with the French maker of an Internet-connected device that measures both weight and body composition (Sperrin M et al. 2016).

The scale-maker provided anonymous online data from a random sample of 975 UK-based users of their Smart Scale device, collected over the course of a year.

(The Smart Scale users consented to their data being used for research purposes when they set up a user account, but were unaware of this particular analysis of their data.)

The company's Internet-connected scales tracked how often the participants used their device, and recorded the results of each weigh-in.

Among the frequent self-weighers, men lost an average of 2.5 extra pounds, while women lost an average of just over 2 extra pounds.

Even better, the people who stepped on the scale most frequently lost the most weight.

What should one do?
These findings seem to suggest a simple tweak to your daily routine.

Step on the scale at least once a week, and write down what it reads. 

That act alone well probably make you more aware of your eating and exercise habits … and that alone may be enough to inspire change.

It may not matter whether you use a relatively pricey "smart” scale or an old-fashioned "dumb” scale … that choice is up to you and your budget.

But a smart scale that records your weight and weigh-in frequency would make it easier to keep track of things, and may thereby yield better results.


Sources
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  • Burke LE , Wang J , Sevick MA Self-monitoring in weight loss: a systematic review of the literature. (PMID:21185970 PMCID:PMC3268700) DOI: 10.1016/j.jada.2010.10.008
  • Butryn ML, Phelan S, Hill JO, Wing RR. Consistent self-monitoring of weight: a key component of successful weight loss maintenance. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2007 Dec;15(12):3091-6. doi: 10.1038/oby.2007.368.
  • Helander EE et al. Are Breaks in Daily Self-Weighing Associated with Weight Gain? Published: November 14, 2014DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0113164
  • Linde JA, Jeffery RW, French SA, Pronk NP, Boyle RG. Self-weighing in weight gain prevention and weight loss trials. Ann Behav Med. 2005 Dec;30(3):210-6.
  • Pacanowski CR, Levitsky DA. Frequent Self-Weighing and Visual Feedback for Weight Loss in Overweight Adults. J Obes. 2015;2015:763680. doi: 10.1155/2015/763680. Epub 2015 May 12.
  • Pacanowski CR, Levitsky DA. Frequent Self-Weighing and Visual Feedback for Weight Loss in Overweight Adults. J Obes. 2015;2015:763680. doi: 10.1155/2015/763680. Epub 2015 May 12.
  • Sperrin M, Rushton H, Dixon WG, Normand A, Villard J, Chieh A, Buchan I. Who Self-Weighs and What Do They Gain From It? A Retrospective Comparison Between Smart Scale Users and the General Population in England. J Med Internet Res. 2016 Jan 21;18(1):e17. doi: 10.2196/jmir.4767.
  • Steinberg DM, Bennett GG, Askew S, Tate DF. Weighing every day matters: daily weighing improves weight loss and adoption of weight control behaviors. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2015 Apr;115(4):511-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2014.12.011. Epub 2015 Feb 12.
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