Checking Your Weight Daily Could Prevent Further Weight Gain

New research suggests a strategy for preventing weight gain. Over 37% of adults in the United States are obese, and 32% are overweight. Healthcare experts expect this number to increase. 

Research suggests that on average, people gain between 0.4 and 1 kilogram of weight per year. Even though this is not significant, persistent weight gain can lead to obesity over time.

New research appearing in the journal Obesity suggests weighing ourselves every day could be an effective way to keep further weight gain in check. The study was led by Jamie Cooper, Associate professor in the Department of Foods and Nutrition at the University of Georgia in Athens. Cooper and his colleagues recruited 111 adults between 18–65 years of age. Study participants weighed themselves with varying degrees of frequency. 

The researchers asked the participants to maintain their initial baseline weight throughout the study period. However, the participants were not offered any guidance on how to do this. Therefore, each participant chose a method they deemed appropriate for keeping their weight in control, whether it was through exercise or diet.

The researchers compared these participants with a control group who did not receive any instructions at all. At the end of the study, those who weighed themselves daily, either maintained the same weight they had at baseline or lost weight. In comparison, participants who did not weigh themselves every day gained weight.

Cooper suggests that perhaps those who maintained the baseline weight may have exercised a little extra after seeing an increase in weight, or they watch what they are eating more carefully. Study co-author Michelle van Dellen, Associate professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Georgia, explains the psychological mechanisms play a role behind these results. She says people are sensitive to differences between their current selves and their preferred standard or goal. She says when people see that discrepancy, it tends to lead to behavioral change. 

However, the authors are not certain whether daily self-weighing without the graphical representation would have the same effect. Dr. Susan Yanovski is an obesity researcher at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. She says a more detailed study with a wider range of participants would help determine the value of this approach for weight gain prevention.