Thursday, October 29, 2009

On a Diet? Avoiding the Scales? Think Again

Most advice says to weigh yourself no more than once a week when trying to lose weight. But two new studies have found that daily weighing may actually be beneficial for both weight loss and weight maintenance.

Weighing Daily Pays Off. The first study, from the University of Minnesota, followed more than 3,000 overweight or obese people for two to three years. More than half the participants were in a weight-loss program; the rest were in a program designed to keep them from gaining weight. Those in the weight-loss program who weighed themselves daily lost twice as much weight as those who weighed themselves only once a week (12 pounds versus 6 pounds).

The 20% of participants who reported that they never weighed themselves fared worst of all, gaining about four pounds over the two years. In contrast, even those enrolled in the weight maintenance program who weighed themselves daily lost weight.

Scales Supersede Support. A second, smaller study, from researchers at the Weight Control Center at Brown University Medical School in Providence, Rhode Island, followed 291 people on a weight-maintenance program for 17 months, after each had lost at least 10% of body weight. During that time, they participated in an Internet support group, a face-to-face support group or they received a monthly newsletter for support.

While support groups helped the dieters lose weight and keep it off, the researchers found that how often participants stepped on the scales had even more of an impact on weight loss than the kind of support they were receiving. Of those who weighed themselves less than once a day, 68% regained at least five pounds, while only 39% of
daily weighers regained that much.

The Bottom Line. Researchers from both studies say that while weighing yourself daily doesn't work for everyone (e.g., those who get discouraged easily or who only have a few pounds to lose), it offers a way to realize your weight is creeping upwards before it gets out of control. This allows you to get back on track quicker with your weight loss.

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