St, Paul, Minn. — Teen girls who frequently weighed themselves were more likely than others to resort to unhealthy dieting measures, and some ended up gaining close to twice as much weight, a study of Minnesota students found.
The most scale-obsessed girls in the University of Minnesota research were more likely to skip meals, use diet pills or laxatives, smoke, and binge and vomit to lose weight.
"The act of getting on the scale, weighing yourself every day, can lead to an unhealthy weight preoccupation," said lead researcher Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, a professor at the university's School of Public Health. "And teenage girls who are concerned about their weight are at great risk for unhealthy weight control behaviors."
The study - published in this month's issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health - surveyed 2,516 Minnesota junior high and high school girls and boys in the 1998-99 school year and followed up in 2003-04.
Close to 10 percent of the girls said at the beginning of the study that they strongly agreed with the statement, "I weigh myself often."
When questioned in the follow-up, 92 percent of those girls said they engaged in some kind of unhealthy weight-control behavior, compared with about 68 percent of girls who strongly disagreed that they weighed themselves frequently.