The key to keeping weight off could be as easy as hopping on the scales, according to a study.
Research shows that people who have slimmed down regain less weight if they simply weigh themselves once a week. In fact, the pounds seem to keep dropping off.
The finding is important because, as every slimmer knows, it is when the diet ends that the hard work really begins.
And despite the best of intentions, many dieters struggle to maintain their new slimline figures.
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Birmingham University researcher Claire Madigan said that stepping on the bathroom scales could be a ‘simple, pragmatic strategy that people could use to stop weight-regain and keep them on track’.
More than 3,000 successful slimmers were offered vouchers for bathroom scales and asked to weigh themselves weekly for nine months.
Just under a third took up the offer and their progress was compared with another group who had also lost weight but weren’t given any help in keeping it off.
Those in the ‘weigh-in’ group regained almost half a stone less than the others, the UK Congress on Obesity in Birmingham heard.
Miss Madigan, who is close to completing a PhD, said that weekly weigh-ins can help slimmers keep track of their weight, allowing them to take action immediately if they notice the pounds creeping up again.
The thought of stepping on the scales may also help stop people from giving into temptation. She said: ‘Perhaps it acts as a primer. If you know you have to step on the scales, you are a bit more careful about what you eat.’
Writing in the Journal of Public Health, she said: ‘Many people with weight problems take action to lose weight but almost invariably put it back on.
‘Finding effective strategies to minimise this is critical.’ She is now working on a new study, looking at whether daily weigh-ins are even better at preventing those sneaky pounds piling back on.
‘Daily weigh-ins would mean that any weight gain should be noticed more quickly. It should also make it easier to get into the habit of weighing yourself.
Curiously, daily weigh-ins only seem to help those who have already succeeded in losing weight to keep it off. Studies show the strategy to be of little or no benefit to those still trying to lose weight.
Previous research has shown that to stay at a new weight, slimmers need to eat less than someone of the same weight who has not dieted.