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Self-Weighing: Helpful or Harmful for Psychological Well-Being? A Review of the Literature


Conflicting views as to the helpfulness or harmfulness of self-weighing for the control of body weight have been presented in the fields of obesity and eating disorders. Because self-weighing is increasingly being considered as an intervention to promote weight loss or prevent weight gain, it is timely to consider unintended psychological outcomes and behavioral correlates of this behavior. Twenty articles from the published literature examining self-weighing and psychological outcomes or weight control behaviors were reviewed. In evaluating self-weighing and affect (ten studies), self-esteem (four studies) and body evaluation (ten studies), and eating behaviors/cognitions (13 studies), in total, most studies found a negative relationship between self-weighing and outcomes (affect: 4/10, self-esteem: 3/4, body evaluation: 4/10, eating behaviors/cognitions: 6/13). Themes that emerged included relationships between self-weighing and negative outcomes for women and younger individuals, and lack of a relationship or positive outcomes for overweight, treatment seeking individuals. Though self-weighing has shown promise in aiding weight control, the degree to which weight loss, and not self-weighing, affects psychological outcomes is not clear. Further assessment of psychological outcomes in self-weighing research may be warranted, as this review suggests the potential for adverse effects of self-weighing in some individuals.

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Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance

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Conflict of Interest

CR Pacanowski and D Neumark-Sztainer declare that they have no conflict of interest.

JA Linde is a consultant for empowris, LLC.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

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Correspondence to C. R. Pacanowski.

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This article is part of the Topical Collection on Psychological Issues

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Pacanowski, C.R., Linde, J.A. & Neumark-Sztainer, D. Self-Weighing: Helpful or Harmful for Psychological Well-Being? A Review of the Literature. Curr Obes Rep 4, 65–72 (2015).

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