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Daily Self-Weighing and Adverse Psychological Outcomes

A Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Dori M. Steinberg
    Correspondence
    Address correspondence to: Dori M. Steinberg, PhD, RD, Duke Obesity Prevention Program, Duke Global Health Institute, Room 134, Trent Hall, 310 Trent Drive, Box #90519, Durham NC 27708
    Affiliations
    Department of Nutrition, Gillings School of Global Public Health, Chapel Hill

    Department of Health Behavior, Gillings School of Global Public Health, Chapel Hill

    Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill

    Duke Obesity Prevention Program, Duke Global Health Institute, Duke University, North Carolina
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  • Deborah F. Tate
    Affiliations
    Department of Nutrition, Gillings School of Global Public Health, Chapel Hill

    Department of Health Behavior, Gillings School of Global Public Health, Chapel Hill

    Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill

    Duke Obesity Prevention Program, Duke Global Health Institute, Duke University, North Carolina
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  • Gary G. Bennett
    Affiliations
    Duke Obesity Prevention Program, Duke Global Health Institute, Duke University, North Carolina

    Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, Duke University, North Carolina
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  • Susan Ennett
    Affiliations
    Department of Health Behavior, Gillings School of Global Public Health, Chapel Hill

    Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill

    Duke Obesity Prevention Program, Duke Global Health Institute, Duke University, North Carolina
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  • Carmen Samuel-Hodge
    Affiliations
    Department of Nutrition, Gillings School of Global Public Health, Chapel Hill
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  • Dianne S. Ward
    Affiliations
    Department of Nutrition, Gillings School of Global Public Health, Chapel Hill

    Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill
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      Background

      Despite evidence that daily self-weighing is an effective strategy for weight control, concerns remain regarding the potential for negative psychological consequences.

      Purpose

      The goal of the study was to examine the impact of a daily self-weighing weight-loss intervention on relevant psychological constructs.

      Design

      A 6-month RCT.

      Setting/participants

      The study sample (N=91) included overweight men and women in the Chapel Hill NC area.

      Intervention

      Between February and August 2011, participants were randomly assigned to a daily self-weighing intervention or delayed-intervention control group. The 6-month intervention included daily self-weighing for self-regulation of diet and exercise behaviors using an e-scale that transmitted weights to a study website. Weekly e-mailed lessons and tailored feedback on daily self-weighing adherence and weight-loss progress were provided.

      Main outcome measures

      Self-weighing frequency was measured throughout the study using e-scales. Weight was measured in-clinic at baseline, 3 months, and 6 months. Psychological outcomes were assessed via self-report at the same time points.

      Results

      In 2012, using linear mixed models and generalized estimating equation models, there were no significant differences between groups in depressive symptoms, anorectic cognitions, disinhibition, susceptibility to hunger, and binge eating. At 6 months, there was a significant group X time interaction for body dissatisfaction (p=0.007) and dietary restraint (p<0.001), with the intervention group reporting lower body dissatisfaction and greater dietary restraint compared to controls.

      Conclusions

      Results indicate that a weight-loss intervention that focuses on daily self-weighing does not cause adverse psychological outcomes. This suggests that daily self-weighing is an effective and safe weight-control strategy among overweight adults attempting to lose weight.

      Trial Registration

      This study is registered at clinicaltrials.gov NCT01369004.
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