Daily weigh-ins encourage weight loss

March 16, 2015 in Nutrition Topics in the News, Weight Management

Daily weigh-ins encourage weight loss

Getting on the scale every day may increase enthusiasm for healthy behaviors and lead to greater weight loss, according to a new U.S. study.

Obese and overweight people who weighed themselves daily lost more weight than those who weighed-in less often, likely because the daily weighers made better food and exercise choices, researchers say.

Past research suggests that self-monitoring, such as tracking steps or food intake, helps people adjust their behavior to stay in line with their goals.

Some studies have also indicated that dieters who weigh themselves daily fare better than those who weigh-in less often, although it’s not clear why.

For the study, the researchers asked participants to focus on just weighing daily – rather than keeping a food diary – to monitor progress as a way of determining whether their diet and exercise habits were working.

They recruited 91 people between 18 and 60 years old with weights in the overweight to obese range and Internet access. About half were randomly assigned to the intervention group, and the other half were assigned to go through the intervention later.

At the start of the study and again six months later, all participants filled out questionnaires about their diets, exercise and other health-related behaviors. Both groups were given “e-scales” with wireless Internet connections, which delivered data to a website that displayed progress over time. People in the intervention group were also instructed to weigh themselves every day.

During the study, the intervention group participants received weekly email messages that included weight loss tips and strategies, while the comparison group received nothing.

At six months, researchers found that daily weighers lost 13 to 14 pounds (about 6 kilograms) while those who weighed themselves five days or fewer each week lost about 7 lbs. (about 3 kg).

The daily weighers also adopted more weight-control behaviors, such as reducing between-meal snacks and cutting the number of meals eaten out at restaurants, increasing exercise and reducing television-watching time. Daily weighers adopted an average of 17 positive behaviors versus seven adopted by those who weighed themselves less often.

Since everyone was supposed to weigh themselves daily, it’s possible that those that did were just more motivated in general. The researchers don’t know if daily weighing is a reflection of greater engagement in weight loss efforts rather than a cause of it.

Even so, daily weighing is a good way to monitor weight loss progress. It also serves as a daily reminder that you’re working towards a goal.

Source: Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2015.

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