You are here

Are Breaks in Daily Self-Weighing Associated with Weight Gain?

Helander, Elina E., Anna-Leena Vuorinen, Brian Wansink, and Ilkka K.J. Korhonen (2014). Are breaks in daily self-weighing associated with weight gain? PLOS ONE, 9(11), e113164. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0113164

It is widely known that regular self-weighing is linked to successful weight loss. However, variation in self-weighing frequency may be the missing component in health promotion and weight loss programs. We investigated the association between breaks in self-weighing periods and success of weight control.

This study analyzed 2,838 weight observations from 40 participants, all of whom were attending a health-promoting program. The health promotion program, and all participants were located in Finland. All participants had a weight loss target and were above normal BMI. In the original study, conducted by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, participants were asked to record their weight daily. We categorized them into four groups, according to how frequently they recorded their weight: 1) daily, 2) at least weekly (breaks in periods of consecutive weighing lasting between 1-6 days), 3) at least monthly (breaks in periods of consecutive weighing lasting between 7-29 days), and, fourth, less than once a month (breaks in periods of consecutive weighing for 30 days). The data was normalized by the weight of the participant to produce the value of % change, which was then analyzed to pinpoint possible relationships within the data.

Study results found a relationship between the length of breaks between weigh-ins and rate of weight loss. Participants experienced either weight gain or decelerated weight loss when they had longer breaks in between periods of consecutive weighing, compared to those who weighed-in at a more consistent frequency. During periods of daily weighing, subjects generally lost weight, however, in break periods longer than a week, there was a general trend of weight gain in participants.

This study demonstrates a significant association between self-weighing frequency and weight loss: the more days between weight measurements, the smaller the weight loss, or greater the weight gain. Because participants generally experience weight gain when breaks between self-weighing periods were greater than one week, it may be beneficial for weight loss programs to encourage members to weigh themselves at least weekly.