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AICR HealthTalk

Karen Collins, MS, RDN, CDN, FAND
American Institute for Cancer Research

Q: How often should I weigh myself to lose weight and then keep it off?

A: How often is likely different for each person, but overall research suggests that regular weighing can help you reach and maintain a healthy weight. A recent analyses of studies concluded that checking your weight somewhere between daily and weekly helps prevent weight gain and supports weight loss.

Regular weighing can act both as a reminder to continue behavior changes you make and as a way of catching and reversing small weight gains before they become big ones. In one study of people trying to lose weight, those who checked their weight daily lost more weight and changed more eating and exercise habits even compared to people who checked several times a week. However, in studies like this, it’s not clear whether checking weight more often led to more behavior change and weight loss, or whether the people more prepared to change behavior were the ones more consistent in weighing themselves.

But it does no good to weigh yourself more than once a day; all you see are shifts in water balance. For some, this behavior can be a sign of developing an unhealthy obsession with weight. Many factors influence whether weight checks help you. Don’t use weight checks as fuel for self-criticism, but as feedback on the effects of recent eating and activity choices. In other words, it’s not just getting a number that is helpful, but what you learn as you take a few minutes to think about why your weight did or did not change. Then make plans accordingly for behavior choices you want to make over the next few days.

Consider how weight checks have worked for you in the past, and perhaps discuss frequency of weighing with your health care provider or a registered dietitian to decide what will work best for you at this particular time in your life.

Read the research on AICR's Blog:  Study: Use your bathroom scale and simple goals to lose weight.

The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is the cancer charity that fosters research on the relationship of nutrition, physical activity and weight management to cancer risk, interprets the scientific literature and educates the public about the results. It has contributed over $105 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. AICR has published two landmark reports that interpret the accumulated research in the field, and is committed to a process of continuous review. AICR also provides a wide range of educational programs to help millions of Americans learn to make dietary changes for lower cancer risk. AICR is a member of the World Cancer Research Fund International (WCRF).

Published on 11/02/2015

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