Stepping on the scales every day and writing down the figure boosts weight loss, a new study finds.
People who weighed themselves daily lost 10 percent of their body weight over one year.
Crucially, they also maintained this weight loss over the next year.
Maintenance is important because studies show that about 40% of weight lost with any dietary treatment is regained in one year.
Without daily weighing, it is easy to regain the weight.
The process of daily weighing helps people improve weight loss behaviours like eating less and going for a walk.
When combined with tracking food intake, tracking weight can double weight loss, other studies find.
Professor David Levitsky, the study’s senior author, said:
“You just need a bathroom scale and an excel spreadsheet or even a piece of graph paper.
It forces you to be aware of the connection between your eating and your weight.
It used to be taught that you shouldn’t weigh yourself daily, and this is just the reverse.”
For the study, 162 people were divided into two groups, half of whom provided a control.
In the first phase of program, participants had to focus on 1% weight loss.
They did this in their own way by stopping snacking and reducing portion size.
When the weight loss remained the same for 10 days, people were asked to try and lose another 1%.
They continued until they had lost 10% of their starting body weight.
The results showed that frequent self-weighing was linked to weight loss and prevention of weight gain.
The study also found that men were losing more weight than women on this program.
Professor Levitsky said:
“It seems to work better for men than women, for reasons we cannot figure out yet.”
The reason weighing yourself seems to work is that it improves weight loss behaviours, such as going for a walk or eating less.
Professor Levitsky said:
“We think the scale also acts as a priming mechanism, making you conscious of food and enabling you to make choices that are consistent with your weight.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the Journal of Obesity (Pacanowski & Levitsky, 2015).