Should Teens Weigh Themselves?

by Diane Lofshult on May 01, 2007

Does frequent self-weighing make adolescents and teens more vulnerable to body image disorders and yo-yo dieting? Researchers recently tried to answer that question in a 5-year longitudinal study called Project EAT, which observed more than 2,500 adolescents. Study participants were divided into two groups: those who were transitioning from early to middle adolescence (the younger cohort) and those who were transitioning from middle to late adolescence (the older cohort).

In the 5-year period, the researchers found that the older cohort of females and both cohorts of males did not gain or lose weight as a result of frequent self-weighing. However, in the younger cohort of females, weight did increase after frequent self-weighing. In both cohorts of women, frequent self-weighing also predicted a higher prevalence of disordered eating behaviors, such as binge eating; however, neither cohort of males was affected in this manner.

Study authors concluded that “frequent self-weighing was not associated with weight change, with the exception of predicting weight changes in younger females. In females, but not males, self-weighing predicted a higher frequency of binge eating and unhealthy weight-control behavior.” The findings appeared in the December 2006 issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health.

The lesson here: Teach kids and adolescents to focus less on what the scale says and more on feeling healthy, moving regularly and eating healthful foods.

IDEA Fitness Journal, Volume 4, Issue 5

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About the Author

Diane Lofshult

Diane Lofshult IDEA Author/Presenter

Diane Lofshult is an award-winning freelance author who specializes in nutrition and weight management topics. She is the founder of In Other Words, an editorial consulting firm based in Solana Beach, California. Reach her at lofshult@roadrunner.com.