Ladies, weighing scales may do more harm than good in weight control. A new study suggests that frequent self-weighing may have psychological effects on females because as their weight concern grows, they may experience depression, altered body satisfaction and low self-esteem.

In a study published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, researchers found out that there is a link between female teens weighing themselves and an increased risk of depression and eating disorders.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota followed 1,902 young adults who were part of the study Project EAT (Eating and Activity in Teens and Young Adults) for more than 10 years. This longitudinal cohort study aims to describe the prevalence of self-weighing in the transition period from adolescence to young adulthood.

The research proponents analyzed the study data to determine the link between self-weighing and current weight status, psychological outcomes and behavioral outcomes. They found out that the more frequently the participants weighed themselves, the greater their weight concern and depression. The results were also correlated with low body satisfaction and self-esteem among women.

"Females who strongly agreed they self-weighed reported engaging in extremely dangerous weight-control behaviors at a rate of 80 percent," Carly R. Pacanowski, lead author of the study, said in a press release.

She added that obesity among teens is a public health concern but some behaviors like lower body satisfaction and obsessing over weight can be predictors of eating disorders.

"This makes it critical that obesity-prevention programs avoid exacerbating these predictors by understanding how behaviors such as self-weighing affect teens," she added.

The researchers note that though adults can benefit from self-weighing because it helps them control their weight, the same cannot be applicable to teenagers. Their findings suggest that self-weighing may be harmful for young people, especially women, as it may lead to negative psychological outcomes like depression and eating disorders such as bulimia.

In their conclusion, the researchers suggested that interventions should assess both potentially harmful and positive effects of self-weighing among female teens. If frequent self-weighing is reported, the motivations and perceived benefits, as well as potential negative outcomes, should be explored. This way, appropriate actions can be done to help teens who are struggling with their weight.

Photo: Dani Lurie | Flickr 

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