Should overweight teens be encouraged to weigh themselves?

Yes, according to researchers at the University of Minnesota.

First, the details.

  • 130 teens in the 85th percentile for body mass index (BMI) during the past 2 years participated.
  • Some weighed themselves frequently and others infrequently.

And, the results.

  • Frequent self-weighers had a lower average weight index (BMI; 180 lb, 82 kg) vs infrequent weighers (188 lb; 86 kg).
  • Frequent weighers were more likely to have lost 10 pounds in the past 2 years.
  • Frequent self-weighers also tended to eat fewer calories, consume less fatty food and junk food, and were more likely to stick to a structured diet.

The bottom line?
The researchers concluded, “Self-weighing may be a beneficial tool… for weight control.”

Perhaps stepping on a scale is like taking a test. You’re more likely to study (watch what you eat) if you know one is coming.

There was no attempt to randomly assign the participants to the frequent vs infrequent weighing group. Therefore, we don’t know for sure “whether self-monitoring specifically caused weight loss behaviors or was simply part of an overall weight loss strategy.”

For that, more research is needed.

11/23/08 20:38 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.