I do this thing where I weigh myself every single time I’m at the gym. There has never been a drastic change in my weight, yet it fluctuates slightly based on the time of the day, and let’s be real, the time of the month. Stepping on a scale (that may or may not be accurate) doesn’t change what I eat or how I live my life, but psychologically, it’s probably pretty harmful. I recognize that my fluctuating weight is totally normal and happens to everyone, but that still doesn’t stop me from checking. I also recognize that my weight is always in the same ballpark, but that too doesn’t stop me from checking. I don’t know why I do it. I just do. It’s a habit. I’m pretty sure the habit started when I was a teenager, but I wish it hadn’t. Because at the end of the day, my weight should be irrelevant to my happiness and how I live my life.
With this habit of mine in mind news of results from a new study are not all that surprising to me, and they likely won’t be to you, but they are absolutely important to discuss. This new study published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, confirms that for young women, weighing themselves every day is, in fact, really not healthy and could take a severe negative psychological toll.
Researchers followed 1,902 young adults for over 10 years as part of Project EAT (Eating and Activity in Teens and Young Adults). Results indicated that females who reported an increase in how often they self-weighed over the 10-year period were expected to have an increase in weight concerns and depressive symptoms and a decrease in body satisfaction and self-esteem. In other words, self-weighing can be harmful behavior and can affect the psychological state of women (and men, TBH) for the rest of their lives.
Carly Pacanowski, lead author of the study at University of Minnesota wrote, “Females who strongly agreed they self-weighed reported engaging in extremely dangerous weight-control behaviors at a rate of 80 percent. Adolescent obesity is a public health concern, but body dissatisfaction and weight concerns are predictors of eating disorders. This makes it critical that obesity-prevention programs avoid exacerbating these predictors by understanding how behaviors such as self-weighing affect teens.”
Childhood and adulthood obesity is a big concern, especially in the U.S., but according to the study, in many cases, being dissatisfied with your body is likely to be a root cause of an eating disorder. So if you’re the parent of a young woman, the best way to prevent your daughter from weighing herself is to just not have a scale in your home. And if you’re a young woman who owns a scale, get rid of it. The risk of permanent psychological damage outweighs the risk of not knowing your weight — which, of course, is constantly fluctuating anyway.
(Featured image via Shutterstock)