Weighing yourself daily linked to weight loss, says study

Rachel Hosie
Getty Images/iStockphoto

For many, the prospect of losing weight without changing your diet sounds too good to be true.

But scientists have found a method that could provide the solution: simply weigh yourself daily.

In a study of 294 female students by researchers at Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania, it was found that those who hopped on their scales every day over two years saw a drop in both BMI and body fat compared to those who didn’t.

What’s more, the women - who were all of different weights - hadn’t been told to try to lose weight.

The researchers were particularly interested in studying students as it’s so common to put on weight at university, especially in your first year - they don’t call it the “Freshers’ 15” for nothing, after all.

In fact, a 2009 study found that over 70 per cent of students gain weight in their first year at university.

But simply by weighing themselves daily, the women not only avoided putting on weight, but actually lost a significant amount. Those who didn’t weigh themselves saw little change in their BMI.

“The losses in BMI and body fat percentage were modest, but still significant, especially keeping in mind that these women were not part of a weight loss programme,” said lead study author Diane Rosenbaum, PhD.

“We did not expect that, in the absence of a weight loss intervention, folks would be losing weight.”

The researchers cannot say for certain that daily weighing leads to weight loss, but it could be that checking in every day motivates you to look after your body more.

“Regularly weighing yourself can motivate you to engage in healthy eating and exercise behaviours, because it provides you with evidence that these behaviours are effective in helping you lose weight or prevent weight gain,” said Meghan Butryn, PhD, an associate professor in the College of Arts and Sciences at Drexel.

“Similarly, if you see weight gain on the scale, that information can motivate you to make a change.”

Of course, it’s normal for a person’s weight to fluctuate, and so if you weigh a bit more than the day before, it could just be due to water retention, when you last went to the toilet, what you ate the night before or where a woman is in her menstrual cycle.

But perhaps simply by making you more aware, daily weigh-ins could help you lose weight.