With the start of summer, and many consumers preparing to celebrate this Memorial Day weekend, the number of barbecues and festive gatherings is sure to increase.
As fun as this time in the sun can be, it can also be difficult not to add on a few extra pounds. To help avoid that extra weight gain, researchers are advising consumers to try a new tactic -- daily self-weighing.
“People are really sensitive to discrepancies or differences between their current selves and their standard or goal,” said researcher Michelle vanDellen. “When they see that discrepancy, it tends to lead to behavioral change. Daily self-weighing ends up doing that for people in a really clear way.”
Keeping an eye on the scale
The researchers conducted their study during the winter holiday season, but the results certainly ring true for the summer barbecue season.
The study included 111 adults who either weighed themselves every day from mid-November through January, or who avoided the scale during that same timeframe. Participants had no other instructions than to try to maintain their weight throughout the course of the study, which was directly in the middle of the holidays.
The participants were free to exercise as much or as little as they wanted, and they had no restrictions on what they could or couldn’t do to keep the weight off.
“Maybe they exercise a little bit more the next day (after seeing a weight increase) or they watch what they are eating more carefully,” said Dr. Jamie Cooper. “The subjects self-select how they are going to modify their behavior, which can be effective because we know that interventions are not one-size fits all.”
Compared to the group who didn’t get on the scale during the holidays, participants who weighed themselves daily either lost weight during the study or maintained their original weight. However, those who weren’t weighing themselves daily gained weight over the course of the study.
The researchers noted that previous studies have shown that those who exercise regularly year-round are not immune to keeping weight off during the holidays, while those who are overweight are more prone to extra weight gain during this time.
The researchers hope consumers take the new information into consideration, since gaining weight during holiday times can carry over into the rest of the year and affect consumers’ overall health.
“Vacations and holidays are probably the two times of year people are most susceptible to weight gain in a very short period of time,” said Dr. Susan Yanovski, a researcher at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Kidney Diseases. “The holidays can actually have a big impact on someone’s long-term health.”
Maintaining a healthy weight
As many consumers are now adopting healthier lifestyles, researchers have taken to discovering the best methods of losing weight and keeping the weight off.
Recently, Duke University researchers found that patients are more successful in their weight loss goals when their doctors are specific about their advice and avoid cliches like “eat healthy” or “work out more.”
“We have very strong evidence that consistent tracking -- particularly of diet, but also one’s weight -- is an essential element of successful weight loss,” said researcher Gary Bennett.