Self-weighing among young adults: who weighs themselves and for whom does weighing affect mood? A cross-sectional study of a population-based sample

Samantha L. Hahn, Carly R. Pacanowski, Katie A. Loth, Jonathan Miller, Marla E. Eisenberg, Dianne Neumark-Sztainer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Self-weighing is widespread among young adults and is sometimes recommended by healthcare providers for weight management. The present study aims to deepen our understanding of who is frequently self-weighing among young adults, and to examine for whom self-weighing impacts mood based on weighing frequency and other eating and weight-related characteristics. Methods: Survey data were collected from a large population-based sample of young adults (31.1 ± 1.6y) participating in Project EAT-IV (n = 1719). Cross-sectional data were stratified across sex and analyzed with chi-square, t-tests, and linear and logistic regressions controlling for age, ethnicity/race, education level, and income. Results: Self-weighing frequency was higher among male and female young adults with a current eating disorder, those trying to lose weight or who endorsed any disordered eating behaviors or cognition, and females with higher BMI. Young adult females were significantly more likely than males to report that self-weighing impacted their mood (53% vs 27%, p < 0.05). Among both male and female young adults, there was a higher probability of participants reporting that self-weighing impacted their mood among those who were self-weighing more frequently, had higher BMI, were trying to lose weight, and endorsed disordered eating behaviors or cognitions. Conclusion: Findings suggest that for many young adults, particularly females and those with weight-related concerns, self-weighing is a behavior that comes with emotional valence. The emotional consequences of self-weighing should be considered when making public health and clinical recommendations regarding the usefulness of self-weighing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number37
JournalJournal of Eating Disorders
Volume9
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Data collection for the study was supported by Grant Number R01HL116892 from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (PI: Dianne Neumark-Sztainer). Additionally, the authors’ time to conduct the research and write this manuscript was supported by Grant Numbers: R35HL139853 from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (PI: Dianne Neumark-Sztainer), T32MH082761 from the National Institute of Mental Health (PI: Scott Crow), T32DK083250 from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (PI: Robert Jeffery), T32CA163184 from the National Cancer Institute (PI: Michele Allen), and K23HD090324–02 from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (PI: Katie Loth). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, or the National Institutes of Health.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).

Keywords

  • Eating disorders
  • Mood
  • Self-monitoring
  • Self-weighing
  • Weight management
  • Young adults

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