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Behavior and Psychology

Patterns of self-weighing behavior and weight change in a weight loss trial



Regular self-weighing has been associated with weight loss and maintenance in adults enrolled in a behavioral weight loss intervention; however, few studies have examined the patterns of adherence to a self-weighing protocol. The study aims were to (1) identify patterns of self-weighing behavior; and (2) examine adherence to energy intake and step goals and weight change by self-weighing patterns.


This was a secondary analysis of self-monitoring and assessment weight data from a 12-month behavioral weight loss intervention study. Each participant was given a scale that was Wi-Fi-enabled and transmitted the date-stamped weight data to a central server. Group-based trajectory modeling was used to identify distinct classes of trajectories based on the number of days participants self-weighed over 51 weeks.


The sample (N=148) was 90.5% female, 81.1% non-Hispanic white, with a mean (s.d.) age of 51.3 (10.1) years, had completed an average of 16.4 (2.8) years of education and had mean body mass index of 34.1 (4.6) kg m−2. Three patterns of self-weighing were identified: high/consistent (n=111, 75.0% self-weighed over 6 days per week regularly); moderate/declined (n=24, 16.2% declined from 4–5 to 2 days per week gradually); and minimal/declined (n=13, 8.8% declined from 5–6 to 0 days per week after week 33). The high/consistent group achieved greater weight loss than either the moderate/declined and minimal/declined groups at 6 months (−10.19%±5.78%, −5.45%±4.73% and −2.00%±4.58%) and 12 months (−9.90%±8.16%, −5.62%±6.28% and 0.65%±3.58%), respectively (P<0.001). The high/consistent group had a greater mean number days per week of adherence to calorie intake goal or step goal but not higher than the moderate/declined group.


This is the first study to reveal distinct temporal patterns of self-weighing behavior. The majority of participants were able to sustain a habit of daily self-weighing with regular self-weighing leading to weight loss and maintenance as well as adherence to energy intake and step goals.

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This work was funded by the NIH grants. The R01HL107370 was awarded to LE Burke at the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing and the UL1RR024153 was the CTSA grant that was awarded to the CTSI at the University of Pittsburgh, PA, USA.

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Correspondence to Y Zheng.

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Zheng, Y., Burke, L., Danford, C. et al. Patterns of self-weighing behavior and weight change in a weight loss trial. Int J Obes 40, 1392–1396 (2016).

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