Want to lose weight? Buy some scales: Adults who weigh themselves daily are more likely to shed the pounds or stay the same size
- US study found those who stepped on scales every day lost or maintained weight
- Experts say harsh reminder of seeing weight increase makes us adjust behaviour
- This could involve exercising a little more or watching what they eat that day
The bathroom scales are every weight-watcher’s worst nightmare, but stepping on them every day could help you shed the pounds.
Scientists found people who weighed themselves on a daily basis either maintained their size or lost weight.
The harsh reminder of seeing a physical weight increase encourages people to adjust their behaviour the next day, researchers say.
This could involve exercising a little more or watching what they eat more carefully, according to the experts.
People who step on the scales every day are more likely to lose weight because the harsh reminder of seeing a physical weight increase encourages them to adjust their behaviour
On the other hand, participants who didn’t step on the scales every day actually gained weight.
Scientists warned people who didn’t weigh themselves regularly felt no pressure to adjust their behaviour because they were oblivious to weight gain.
The study, set to be published in the June 2019 issue of Obesity, examined 111 adults between aged 18 to 65.
Researchers analysed participants from mid-November 2017 to early January 2018 when the average adult puts on 0.9 to 3.3lbs (0.4 to 1.5kg) gorging on food over the festive period.
The team from the University of Georgia told participants to try to maintain their baseline weight throughout the holiday season.
But they gave no additional instructions on how to achieve that goal, forcing them to decide for themselves how they would modify their behavior.
They found that people who didn’t weigh themselves daily put on 4.9lbs (2.2kg) in the two-month period, on average.
Whereas those who stepped on the scales every day maintained their weight.
Researchers then followed up with participants, who’d continued to weigh themselves daily, 14 weeks later.
Those who were stepping on the scales each day had lost on average 0.22lbs (0.1kg).
Whereas people who didn’t weigh themselves daily went back down to 149.5lbs (67.8kg) – still up 1.8lbs (0.8kg) from December.
Lead author Jamie Cooper said: ‘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.’
Michelle vanDellen, second author on the paper, said the latest findings support discrepancy theories of self-regulation.
‘People are really sensitive to discrepancies or differences between their current selves and their standard or goal,’ she said.
‘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.’
‘Vacations and holidays are probably the two times of year people are most susceptible to weight gain in a very short period of time,’ Mr Cooper said.
‘The holidays can actually have a big impact on someone’s long-term health.’
Obesity is a major contributor to more than 200 conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and cancer. Approximately 1.2 billion people worldwide have obesity.
WHAT IS OBESITY? AND WHAT ARE ITS HEALTH RISKS?
Obesity is defined as an adult having a BMI of 30 or over.
A healthy person’s BMI – calculated by dividing weight in kg by height in metres, and the answer by the height again – is between 18.5 and 24.9.
Among children, obesity is defined as being in the 95th percentile.
Percentiles compare youngsters to others their same age.
For example, if a three-month-old is in the 40th percentile for weight, that means that 40 per cent of three-month-olds weigh the same or less than that baby.
Around 58 per cent of women and 68 per cent of men in the UK are overweight or obese.
The condition costs the NHS around £6.1billion, out of its approximate £124.7 billion budget, every year.
This is due to obesity increasing a person’s risk of a number of life-threatening conditions.
Such conditions include type 2 diabetes, which can cause kidney disease, blindness and even limb amputations.
Research suggests that at least one in six hospital beds in the UK are taken up by a diabetes patient.
Obesity also raises the risk of heart disease, which kills 315,000 people every year in the UK – making it the number one cause of death.
Carrying dangerous amounts of weight has also been linked to 12 different cancers.
This includes breast, which affects one in eight women at some point in their lives.
Among children, research suggests that 70 per cent of obese youngsters have high blood pressure or raised cholesterol, which puts them at risk of heart disease.
Obese children are also significantly more likely to become obese adults.
And if children are overweight, their obesity in adulthood is often more severe.
As many as one in five children start school in the UK being overweight or obese, which rises to one in three by the time they turn 10.