Daily Self-Weighing: The Secret to Successful Weight Loss Maintenance

Is it useful to step on the scale every day? Findings from a recent study suggest that daily self-weighing might be the key to successful weight loss maintenance.

In a recently published study in Annals of Behavioral Medicine  researchers examined why a successful weight loss maintenance intervention –“Keep it Off – Guided Intervention”– has been successful. Keep it Off is an intervention designed to help people who have already lost weight to maintain their weight loss. Participants in the Keep it Off Guided intervention received 16 coaching sessions over two years targeting several factors that have been suggested to influence weight-loss maintenance. This intervention was compared to a control condition where participants received two phone coaching sessions and a course book with the topics key to weight loss-maintenance. This study focused on identifying mediators of the intervention – variables that account for the success of the intervention. Possible mediators included: starting self-weighting, stopping self-weighting, minutes of physical activity, calorie consumption, using weight-control strategies, amount of meals eaten at fast food venues, body image, and TV-related eating.

Of note, an important strength of this study was that participants were randomly assigned to the control or intervention groups, and the potential mediators for maintained weight loss were measured every 6 months over two years. These study design strengths increase confidence in the findings.

The researchers found that starting daily self-weighing and not stopping daily self-weighing were the only significant mediators of the intervention. Given the findings from this study and other studies which have documented the benefits of daily self-weighing, individuals who have lost weight and are seeking to maintain it should consider starting and not stopping self-weighing. In addition, several potential explanations for weight loss maintenance emerged, including eating away from home, dietary intake, and body satisfaction. These variables were predictive of weight changes but did not mediate the effect of the intervention. The lack of intervention effect on these factors that were associated with weight change could be due to a lack of emphasis on these behaviors in the intervention. Focusing on targeting these factors could strengthen future weight loss maintenance interventions, and these pathways should be investigated in future weight loss maintenance interventions.

Crain, A.L., Sherwood, N.E., Martinson, B.C., & Jeffery, R.W. (2017). Mediators of weight loss maintenance in the Keep It Off Trial. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 1-10.

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