Weighing the Evidence: Benefits of Regular Weight Monitoring for Weight Control1

  • Patrick Mahlen O'Neil
    Address for correspondence: Patrick M. O'Neil, PhD, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina, 67 President Street, IOP South, Suite 404, PO Box 250861, Charleston, SC 29425;Tel: (843) 792-2273; Fax: (843) 792-5432
    Weight Management Center, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina
    Search for articles by this author
  • Joshua D. Brown
    Weight Management Center, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina
    Search for articles by this author
  • Author Footnotes
    1 Note from the Editor: A contrasting viewpoint has also been published in this issue (Dionne MM, Yeudall F. Monitoring of weight in weight loss programs: a double-edged sword? J Nutr Educ Behav. 2005;37:315-318).
      This paper is only available as a PDF. To read, Please Download here.


      We address the assertion that weighing obese patients in weight loss programs can be a source of distress and can lead to unfavorable outcomes. Examination of the relevant literature suggests that there is no evidence that weighing by weight loss participants is a cause of negative mood or of body dissatisfaction. Further, there is little evidence that negative mood states or body dissatisfaction lead to a poor outcome in weight loss programs. To the contrary, a number of studies consistently show that more frequent weighing is associated with better weight loss and maintenance. We offer suggestions for dealing with this issue in clinical practice.

      Key Words

      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access

      SNEB Member Login

      SNEB Members, full access to the journal is a member benefit. Login via the SNEB Website to access all journal content and features.


      Subscribe to Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect


        • Hedley AA
        • Ogden CL
        • Johnson CL
        • Carroll MD
        • Curtin LR
        Overweight and obesity among US children, adolescents, and adults, 1999-2002.
        JAMA. 2004; 291: 2847-2850
        • Fowler-Brown A
        • Kahwati LC
        Prevention and treatment of overweight in children and adolescents.
        Am Fam Physician. 2004; 69: 2591-2598
        • National Institutes of Health
        Clinical guidelines on the identification, evaluation, and treatment of overweight and obesity in adults: The evidence report.
        Obes Res. 1998; 6: 51S-209S
        • Rocchini AP
        Childhood obesity and a diabetes epidemic.
        N Engl J Med. 2002; 346: 854-855
        • Olshansky SJ
        • Passaro DJ
        • Hershow RC
        • et al.
        A potential decline in life expectancy in the United States in the 21st century.
        N Engl J Med. 2005; 352: 1135-1137
        • Kruger J
        • Galuska DA
        • Serdula MK
        • Jones DA
        Attempting to lose weight: specific practices among U.S. adults.
        Am J Prev Med. 2004; 26: 402-406
        • Dionne MM
        • Yeudall F
        Monitoring of weight in weight loss programs: a double-edged sword?.
        J Nutr Educ Behav. 2005; 37: 319-322
        • McFarlane T
        • Polivy J
        • Herman CP
        Effects of false weight feedback on mood, self-evaluation, and food intake in restrained and unrestrained eaters.
        J Abnom Psychol. 1998; 107: 312-318
        • Ogden J
        • Evans C
        The problem with weighing: effects on mood, self-esteem and body image.
        Int J Obes. 1996; 20: 272-277
        • Ogden J
        • Whyman C
        The effect of repeated weighing on psychological state.
        Eur Eating Disord Rev. 1997; 5: 121-130
        • Martin CK
        • O'Neil PM
        • Binks M
        An attempt to identify predictors of treatment outcome in two comprehensive weight loss programs.
        Eat Behav. 2002; 3: 239-248
        • Wadden TA
        • Letizia KA
        Predictors of attrition and weight loss in patients treated by moderate and severe caloric restriction.
        in: Wadden TA Vanltalie TB Treatment of the Seriously Obese Patient. Guilford Press, New York1992: 383-410
        • Teixeira PJ
        • Going SB
        • Sardinha LB
        • Lohman TG
        A review of psy-chosocial pre-treatment predictors of weight control.
        Obes Rev. 2005; 6: 43-65
        • Carels RA
        • Cacciapaglia HM
        • Douglass OM
        • Rydin S
        • O'Brien WH
        The early identification of poor treatment outcome in a women's weight loss program.
        Eat Behav. 2003; 4: 265-282
        • Kiernan M
        • King AC
        • Kraemer HC
        • Stefanick ML
        • Killen JD
        Characteristics of successful and unsuccessful dieters: an application of signal detection methodology.
        Ann Behav Med. 1998; 20: 1-6
        • Teixeira PJ
        • Going SB
        • Houtkooper LB
        • et al.
        Weight loss readiness in middle-aged women: psychosocial predictors of success for behavioral weight reduction.
        J Behav Med. 2002; 25: 499-523
        • Klem ML
        • Wing RR
        • McGuire MT
        • Seagle HM
        • Hill JO
        A descriptive study of individuals successful at long-term maintenance of substantial weight loss.
        Am J Clin Nutr. 1997; 66: 239-246
        • McGuire MT
        • Wing RR
        • Klem ML
        • Hill JO
        Behavioral strategies of individuals who have maintained long-term weight losses.
        Obes Res. 1999; 7: 334-341
        • Qi BB
        • Dennis KE
        The adoption of eating behaviors conducive to weight loss.
        Eat Behav. 2000; 1: 23-31
        • Klem ML
        • Wing RR
        • McGuire MT
        • Lang W
        • Hill JO
        Does weight loss maintenance become easier over time?.
        Obes Res. 2000; 8: 438-444
        • Byrne S
        • Cooper Z
        • Fairburn C
        Weight maintenance and relapse in obesity: a qualitative study.
        Int J Obes. 2003; 27: 955-962
      1. Linde JA, Jeffery RW, French SA, Pronk NP, Boyle RG. Self-weighing in weight gain prevention and weight loss trials. Ann Behav Med. In press.

        • Jeffrey RW
        How can Health Behavior Theory be made more useful for intervention research?.
        Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2004; 1: 10
        • National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
        The Practical Guide: Identification, Evaluation, and Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults. National Institutes of Health, 2000
        • Cash TF
        The treatment of body image disturbances.
        in: Thompson JK Body Image, Eating Disorders, and Obesity: An Integrative Guide for Assessment and Treatment. American Psychological Association, Washington, DC2001: 83-107