Self-Weighing Throughout Adolescence and Young Adulthood: Implications for Well-Being

J Nutr Educ Behav. 2015 Nov-Dec;47(6):506-515.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.jneb.2015.08.008.


Objective: To describe the prevalence of self-weighing in the transition period from adolescence to young adulthood and examine cross-sectional and longitudinal associations between self-weighing and weight status, psychological, and behavioral outcomes.

Design: Project Eating and Activity in Teens and Young Adults, a longitudinal cohort study that assessed variables 3 times over 10 years.

Participants: A total of 1,868 adolescents and young adults.

Main outcome measures: Weight, body mass index, weight disparity, body satisfaction, weight concern, self-esteem, depression, and unhealthy weight control behaviors.

Analysis: Cross-sectional and longitudinal.

Results: Significant positive correlations were found at each time point between self-weighing and weight concern for both genders. Self-weighing was significantly inversely related to self-esteem at each time point in female participants. Increases in endorsement of self-weighing were significantly related to decreases in body satisfaction and self-esteem and increases in weight concern and depression in female participants and to increases in weight concern in male participants.

Conclusions and implications: Findings suggest that self-weighing may not be an innocuous behavior for young people, particularly women. Interventions should assess potential harmful consequences of self-weighing in addition to any potential benefits. It may be appropriate for clinicians to ask about self-weighing, and if it is frequent, to explore motivations, perceived benefits, and potential adverse correlates or consequences.

Keywords: adolescent; psychological; self-esteem; self-weighing; weight; well-being.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Image / psychology*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight / physiology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Self Concept*
  • Young Adult