Weighing yourself daily helps keep the weight off

A STUDY recently published in the Journal of Obesity suggests that frequently weighing oneself and looking at the progress on a chart every day is an effective way to lose a modest amount of weight and – just as importantly – keep it off. However, for reasons they could not explain, the researchers found this method seems to work better for men than for women.
“You just need a bathroom scale and an excel spreadsheet or even a piece of graph paper,” explains senior author David Levitsky, a professor of nutrition and psychology at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY. He says this forces you to be aware of the link between your weight and what you eat, and notes that this goes against what we used to be told:
“It used to be taught that you shouldn’t weigh yourself daily, and this is just the reverse.” In the 2-year study, participants who lost weight in the first year were able to keep it off through the second year. The result is significant because many studies show that around 40% of weight lost through dieting is often put back on within a year, and within 5 years, all of it is regained.
For their study, Prof. Levitsky and first author Carly Pacanowski, a nutritional sciences PhD candidate, randomly assigned 162 overweight men and women to an intervention group and a control group. All participants attended an initial educational session where they learned about evidence-based strategies for weight loss, including specific approaches based on choosing one’s own weight loss method – with an emphasis on making small changes.
The small changes suggested included skipping dessert a few times per week, using a meal replacement for lunch three times a week and avoiding snacks between meals most of the time. Members of the control group then left the session, which went on to give the intervention group instructions and equipment for daily self-monitoring.
They were given a typical bathroom scale and asked to weigh themselves at the same time every day – preferably first thing in the morning – and record the result on a website chart set up by the researchers. The intervention group were then given a target of losing 1% of their weight, in any manner they chose. This is roughly the equivalent of consuming around 150 calories a day less than usual for around 2 weeks.
Once the participants had maintained their 1% weight loss for 10 days, they were asked to lose another 1%. This pattern continued with a long-term goal of losing 10% of their starting body weight in the first year. Prof. Levitsky says each participant devised his or her own way of losing weight – some reduced portion size, others stopped snacking, and some skipped meals. After the first year, the control group was then given bathroom scales and briefed on self-monitoring, as the intervention group had been at the start of the first year.

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