Background

Daily weighing can aid in weight loss, maintenance of weight loss, and prevention of weight gain. To aid in identifying target populations for daily self-weighing, we explored self-weighing frequency, beliefs about regular weighing, and body image dissatisfaction (BID) in adults.

Methods

A cross-sectional survey study of adults (n=1000) in the continental U.S. was conducted between September and December 2018 as part of the Cornell National Social Survey.

Results

Participants were 49% male and 72% white with a mean age of 47 years (SD 18.4 years) and an average BMI of 27.4 kg/m2 (SD 6.2 kg/m2). Overall, 15% reported weighing daily, 29% weekly, 31% monthly and 25% never weighed, with no significant differences by gender. The majority of people (51%) believed regular self-weighing was personally helpful, with 7% thinking it was harmful and 11% reporting both helpful and harmful. Those with positive beliefs were more likely to be male (57%, p <0.001), overweight (41% vs. normal BMI 31% or obese 28%, p<0.001), and middle or older aged (p<0.002). Controlling for age, gender, race, and BMI, more positive beliefs about self-weighing associated with increased frequency of weighing (p < 0.001), and frequency of weighing positively associated with BID (p=0.02). Of those daily weighing, 35% had moderate to severe BID and 28% had no BID. Those with no BID were more often male (62%), with a mean age of 54 years (95% CI: 48.4 to 59.7 years) and BMI of 24.5 kg/m2 (95% CI: 23.4 to 25.6 kg/m2).

Conclusions

The majority of adults reported regular weighing as helpful. Yet, less than one in five adults weighed every day. Daily weighing is most acceptable and associated with the least body image dissatisfaction in middle-aged male adults with a BMI in the normal to overweight range.