Healthy Teen Weight Behaviors Linked to Regular Self-Weighing

May 14, 2009 By Debra Kain

(PhysOrg.com) -- In a study of 130 overweight adolescents, researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine found that frequent self-weighing is associated with positive behaviors and may prove to be a useful weight-control tool.

Kerri N. Boutelle, PhD, associate professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at UC San Diego and Rady Children’s Hospital, San Diego, and colleagues set out to assess relationships between the frequency of self-weighing and weight-control behaviors among teens with a history of being overweight. Their results are published in this month’s issue of .

“We think that regular weight monitoring may increase a teen’s awareness of weight fluctuations or gradual weight gain, enabling him or her to appropriately adjust their diet and exercise,” said Boutelle. “It’s a process called self-regulation, which is not about the weight; it’s about paying attention.”

Previous research suggested that adults who are successful at managing their weight monitor their , physical activity and weight. Adults who are most successful at long-term weight loss report weighing themselves at least once a week.

However, some studies suggested that frequent self-weighing in teens could be predictive of unhealthy weight control behaviors, suggesting that unintended consequences could include body dissatisfaction, possibly leading to eating disorders. Boutelle’s study instead showed that frequent self-weighing was associated with a higher rate of healthy weight-control behaviors, such as increased exercise and increased intake of fruits and vegetables.

“We found that adolescents with a history of being overweight, who self-weighed at least weekly, were four times as likely to report engaging in healthy weight-control behaviors,” said Boutelle. “They also reported less daily , less junk-food consumption and greater use of a structured diet.”

The study looked at 130 males and females, 12 to 20 years old, with a body mass index (BMI) in the 85th or higher percentile. Participants were asked how often they weighed themselves: never, once a year or less, every few months, every month or week or day, or more than once a day. Forty-two percent of the group reported weighing themselves “frequently” (ranging from several times a day to once a week.)

The teens completed a survey that assessed healthy behaviors such as adding fruits and to their diet, drinking more water, walking and climbing stairs more frequently, or watching less television. The survey also asked participants to report unhealthy weight control behaviors such as fasting, skipping meals and smoking cigarettes.

Boutelle says that further studies are needed to explore the relationships between self-weighing, weight-control behaviors and psychological well-being among overweight adolescent.

“Given the high prevalence of obesity among teens, and the high risk of this obesity continuing into adulthood, finding effective weight-control strategies for youth is important,” she said. “We hope that early intervention may lessen the grave health consequences associated with adult obesity.”

Additional contributors to the paper include Mary E. Alm, PhD; Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, PhD, MPH, RD; and Mary Story, PhD, RD, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.

Provided by University of California - San Diego (news : web)

Explore further: Pollution, smoking, roads, obesity kill 4.7m Chinese a year

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Study: More teenage girls using diet pills

Oct 30, 2006

A new study suggests use of diet pills by teenage girls is rapidly increasing, with 20 percent of females using such pills by the time they are 20 years old.

Eating disorders in adolescents

Nov 19, 2007

Eating disorders in the U.S. among ethnic groups were thought to be rare, but recent studies have shown that many cultures are now exposed to the thin beauty ideal. As a result, experts expect to see an increase in eating ...

Recommended for you

Can YouTube save your life?

10 hours ago

Only a handful of CPR and basic life support (BLS) videos available on YouTube provide instructions which are consistent with recent health guidelines, according to a new study published in Emergency Medicine Australasia, the jo ...

Doctors frequently experience ethical dilemmas

11 hours ago

(HealthDay)—For physicians trying to balance various financial and time pressures, ethical dilemmas are common, according to an article published Aug. 7 in Medical Economics.

AMGA: Physician turnover still high in 2013

11 hours ago

(HealthDay)—For the second year running, physician turnover remains at the highest rate since 2005, according to a report published by the American Medical Group Association (AMGA).

Obese or overweight teens more likely to become smokers

12 hours ago

A study examining whether overweight or obese teens are at higher risk for substance abuse finds both good and bad news: weight status has no correlation with alcohol or marijuana use but is linked to regular ...

Taking preventive health care into community spaces

13 hours ago

A church. A city park. An office. These are not the typical settings for a medical checkup. But a new nationwide study by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research shows that providing health services in ...

User comments : 0