For those wishing to lose weight and keep it off, here’s a simple strategy that works: step on a scale each day and track the results.
A two-year Cornell study, recently published in the Journal of Obesity, found that frequent self weighing and tracking results on a chart were effective for both losing weight and keeping it off, especially for men.
Subjects who lost weight the first year in the program were able to maintain that lost weight throughout the second year. This is important because studies show that about 40 percent of weight lost with any dietary treatment is regained in one year, and almost 100 percent of weight loss is regained at the end of five years.
By charting daily weights on an excel spreadsheet or even a piece of graph paper, it forces awareness of the connection between eating and weight.
There was no prescription for losing weight so everyone determined their own of method of losing the weight. Some people reduced portion size, stopped snacking or skipped a meal. Losing 1 percent of body weight requires most people to cut only about 150 calories a day for two weeks.
Once they maintained that weight loss for 10 days, the program then gave them a new target to lose another 1 percent, and so on. The goal was to lose a total of 10 percent of their starting body weight.
There was a significant difference between men and women, with women losing weight on the program, but far less than the men. This method seemed to work better for men than women, for reasons the researchers were unable to determine. Overall, the researchers believe that stepping on a scale and tracking one’s weight acts as a reinforcement for some behaviors, such as eating less. This daily activity also strengthens other behaviors such as going for a walk in order to maintain body weight.
References: Carly R. Pacanowski, David A. Levitsky. Frequent Self-Weighing and Visual Feedback for Weight Loss in Overweight Adults. Journal of Obesity, 2015; 2015: 1 DOI:10.1155/2015/763680