The simple act of getting on the scales is enough to start losing weight, new research finds.
Self-weighing helps to encourage people to be aware of their own weight and makes them think about what they are eating.
Awareness is more likely to motivate change.
That is why in one previous study people doubled their weight loss by noting down their exercise and dietary habits.
People in the current study lost weight by just weighing themselves.
They made no other conscious changes to their diet or lifestyle — although clearly they must have made some adjustments.
For the study, 111 people were tracked over the festive season.
The results showed that people who did not weigh themselves gained weight.
However, many of those who weighed themselves lost both weight and belly fat, or at least did not put on any weight.
Dr Jamie Cooper, study co-author, said that people naturally adjust their lifestyle when they see their weight:
“Maybe they exercise a little bit more the next day (after seeing a weight increase) or they watch what they are eating more carefully.
The subjects self-select how they are going to modify their behavior, which can be effective because we know that interventions are not one-size-fits-all.”
The simple trick used in the study was to show people a graph of their weight over time.
Dr Michelle vanDellen, study co-author, said:
“People are really sensitive to discrepancies or differences between their current selves and their standard or goal.
When they see that discrepancy, it tends to lead to behavioral change.
Daily self-weighing ends up doing that for people in a really clear way.”
Obesity often results from putting on small amounts of weight over the years.
“Vacations and holidays are probably the two times of year people are most susceptible to weight gain in a very short period of time.
The holidays can actually have a big impact on someone’s long-term health.”
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, 2013) 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 Obesity (Kaviani et al., 2019).