If you want to lose weight and keep it off, a simple strategy is to step on a scale every day and track the results, researchers say. A new two-year Cornell study has found that frequent self-weighing and tracking results on a chart are effective for losing weight and keeping it off.
For the study published in the Journal of Obesity 162 people were randomly separated into two groups: a control group and an intervention group. The participants in the intervention group were given a target goal of one percent weight loss which they were allowed to lose any way they wanted to. Next, they had to maintain that weight loss for 10 days and then they were given another one percent target goal. The ultimate goal was to lose 10 percent of their starting body weight.
Researchers found that there was a significant difference between the men and women. The women did lose weight on the program, but far less weight than the men.
The researchers conclusion is that stepping on a scale daily and tracking your weight is a reinforcement for some behaviors including eating less. The procedure also strengthens other habits to maintain body weight such as taking a walk.
"Because we didn't prescribe, everyone found their own way of losing the weight, whether they reduced portion size, stopped snacking or skipped a meal, said David Levitsky, professor of nutrition and psychology at Cornell and the paper's senior author. Losing 1 percent of body weight requires most people to cut only about 150 calories a day for two weeks. You just need a bathroom scale and an excel spreadsheet or even a piece of graph paper. We think the scale also acts as a priming mechanism, making you conscious of food and enabling you to make choices that are consistent with your weight."