The bathroom scale is not your enemy.
In fact, if you want to lose weight or prevent new pounds from packing on — common goals for the new year – it could be one of your best friends, the latest research suggests.
“The old conventional wisdom was: ‘Don’t weigh yourself more once a week. It will drive you crazy,’ ” says Dori Steinberg, an obesity prevention and treatment researcher at the Duke Global Health Institute in Durham, N.C. “But now we are seeing more and more research showing that the optimal frequency for weighing oneself is likely every day.”
That’s right: every day — contrary to the popular theory that such frequent trips to the scale could be confusing, discouraging or even psychologically dangerous.
“Stepping on the scales should be like brushing your teeth,” says David Levitsky, a professor of nutrition and psychology at Cornell University.
Levitsky and Steinberg are among researchers who put daily weighing to the test after preliminary studies linked it with weight loss and maintenance. Those preliminary studies, based on observations of people in broader studies, did not prove that frequent weighing helped people control their weight. It was possible that cause and effect went the other way — that good numbers kept people coming back to their scales while disappointing numbers kept them away.
But newer studies have directly tested daily scale use. Among the findings:
• College freshman told to weigh themselves daily during their first 12 weeks of classes put on no weight. Their classmates put on an average of 5 pounds — typical for pizza-loving freshmen.