In Brief

To keep the pounds off, consider stepping on the scale once a day, according to a study in the August Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology (Vol. 75, No. 4). Despite concerns that daily weighing may lead to eating disorders and other adverse psychological effects, it seems the routine is an important weapon in the fight against weight gain, says the study's lead author Rena R. Wing, PhD, director of the Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center at Brown Medical School in Providence, R.I.

Wing recruited 314 successful weight losers--81 percent women, with a mean age of 51--and randomly assigned each to one of three groups. One group received quarterly newsletters encouraging healthy eating, exercise and weight control. The other two groups attended regular meetings--either face-to-face or via Internet chat rooms--where they were encouraged to weigh themselves daily and use the information to regulate their food intake and exercise regimen.

Based on assessments at six, 12 and 18 months, researchers found that stepping on the scale daily led to increases in dietary restraint and lower susceptibility to overeating, Wing says. And there was an added bonus: Participants reported lower levels of depressive symptoms at the study's end.

It seems that, for successful dieters at least, daily weighing can be a beneficial strategy in weight maintenance, Wing says.

"It's like checking the thermometer in your house to see what the temperature is," she says. "It helps you know how to make adjustments."