Association between scales, disordered eating, and weight gain

The association between the development of weighing technology, possession and use of weighing scales, and self-reported severity of disordered eating

D. J. Walsh, B. G. Charlton

The aim of this study is to investigate David Healy’s hypothesis that the development of weighing technologies significantly contributes to the development of anorexia nervosa. A newly developed questionnaire and the EAT-26 were used to investigate these ideas. The key results from this study are that a positive correlation between EAT-26 scores and the frequency of weighing (p ≤ 0.001), and that group differences were also found between the control group and those with an EAT-26 score of 20 or above on weighing scale ownership (p = 0.017), the type of scale owned (p = 0.002) and whether people weighed themselves often (p ≤ 0.001); indicating that those with a higher EAT-26 score were more likely to own weighing scales, own digital weighing scales, and weigh themselves more often. These results suggest that the increased precision and usage of weighing technologies may potentially be a causal factor in disordered eating, and as such, this idea can be extended to suggest the hypothesis that frequent and precise weighing of anorexic patients in therapy may actually be counter-productive.

The idea may perhaps also be extended by suggesting that weight loss in the overweight may be more readily achieved with frequent and precise weighing, though that idea would need to be tested.

Actually, I came across a paper that states that regular weighing may be important for weight loss: Weight-Loss Maintenance for 10 Years in the National Weight Control Registry. This study looked at successful weight-losers from the registry mentioned. It found:

Mean weight loss was 31.3 kg (95% CI=30.8, 31.9) at baseline, 23.8 kg (95% CI=23.2, 24.4) at 5 years and 23.1±0.4 kg (95% CI=22.3, 23.9) at 10 years. More than 87% of participants were estimated to be still maintaining at least a 10% weight loss at Years 5 and 10. Larger initial weight losses and longer duration of maintenance were associated with better long-term outcomes. Decreases in leisure-time physical activity, dietary restraint, and frequency of self-weighing and increases in percentage of energy intake from fat and disinhibition were associated with greater weight regain.

The majority of weight lost by NWCR members is maintained over 10 years. Long-term weight-loss maintenance is possible and requires sustained behavior change.

So, successful weight loss is associated with weighing oneself often, just as might be suspected.


Leave a Comment:

1 comment
Targeted lean mass gains - Rogue Health and Fitness says January 25, 2016

[…] yourself daily. Any one concerned about body composition should be doing this already. Daily weighing is an effective means of weight control, despite what they say in the […]

Add Your Reply