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   Jan 13

How often should I weigh myself?

How is that new year diet going? Weighed yourself lately? How often should you do so? Weight Watchers recommends that you weigh yourself once a week, while some dieting sites suggest throwing away your scales so as not to become demoralised. Scales can seem extraordinary fickle at times, with weight fluctuating by nearly 1kg from day to day. So it is timely that research in the journal PLOS One has come up with the optimum frequency for stepping on the scales. The answer, however, may be surprising. The researchers say that dieters who weigh themselves daily lose the most weight – the average period between weight checks without gaining weight being 5.8 days. Elina Helander, the lead author from the Tampere University of Technology in Finland points out that cause and effect isn’t clear. It may be that the most serious dieters are the ones who keep hopping on the scales because they like what they see. So should you weigh yourself more often or do you have better things to do?

This particular study analysed 2,838 weight measurements from 40 people attending a health promotion programme, who wanted to lose weight. It is a small group, but the authors say it reflects findings from other studies, including those looking at keeping off the weight. Most dieters are back to their previous baseline weight within three to five years. A study in the New England Journal on maintaining weight loss in 314 successful dieters (who had lost an average of 19.3kg in the past two years) found that those who weighed themselves daily were less likely to gain 2.3kg or more over the next 18 months. The authors argued that there is little evidence for frequent weighing lowering self-esteem or having negative effects.

Another study, in the journal Obesity, examined data from 3,003 people on a national weight control registry and found that more frequent weighing was associated with greater “cognitive restraint” and those who weighed in daily were less likely to increase their fat intake than those who got on their scales less than once a week.

But even if you just get on the scales out of curiosity, studies confirm what you probably already know, that weight fluctuates during the week, increasing over the weekend as people eat bigger meals and move less. We usually weigh the most by Sunday and Monday and then, over the course of the week, our weight generally decreases. The authors of the PLOS One study also published a paper in Obesity Facts (although, again, the study was small) showing that people whose weight fluctuated the most over the week were actually the most likely to keep their weight steady – perhaps because this is actually the normal rhythm of our weight.

Source: The Guardian

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