The Link Between Self-Weighing and Self-Esteem

Self-weighing may be linked to weight concern and depression


Self-weighing may create a fine line between healthy and harmful, particularly for young women.

Weighing yourself may be good to a degree, but it may be tied to greater weight concern in younger men and women, according to a new study. Women may also experience lower body satisfaction.

"Females who strongly agreed they self-weighed reported engaging in extremely dangerous weight-control behaviors at a rate of 80 percent," said lead study author Carly R. Pacanowski, PhD, RD, of the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, in a press release. "Adolescent obesity is a public health concern, but body dissatisfaction and weight concerns are 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."

Dr. Pacanowski and team followed young adults through Project EAT (Eating and Activity in Teens and Young Adults). They looked at different variables three times over a 10-year period. Of the 1,868 participants, 1,050 were female and 810 were male.

The goal of the study, published Nov. 9 in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, was to show the prevalence of self-weighing in patients moving into young adulthood. The study was also designed to look at links between self-weighing and weight status, behavioral outcomes and psychological variables.

After surveying the study patients, Dr. Pacanowski and colleagues found that self-weighing was tied to growing depressive symptoms and concerns about weight. It was also linked to lower self-esteem and body satisfaction.

"Clinicians should ask adolescent patients about self-weighing at office visits to determine any benefits or negative outcomes," Dr. Pacanowski said. "Noting changes in this behavior over time can be helpful for investigating other, more concerning changes in well-being among young adults."

Study funding sources and conflicts of interest were not available at the time of publication.