Why do people stop weighing themselves? An observational analysis of weight and physical activity tracking (Preprint)
Frie K., Hartmann-Boyce J., Jebb S., Oke J., Aveyard P.
<sec> <title>BACKGROUND</title> <p>Self-regulation for weight loss requires regular self-monitoring of weight but the frequency of weight tracking commonly declines over time.</p> </sec> <sec> <title>OBJECTIVE</title> <p>The aim of this research is to investigate whether it is a decline in weight loss or a drop in motivation to lose weight (using physical activity tracking as a proxy) that may be prompting a stop in weight monitoring.</p> </sec> <sec> <title>METHODS</title> <p>We analysed weight and physical activity data from 1605 Withings HealthMate app users, who had set a weight loss goal and stopped tracking their weight for at least 6 weeks after a minimum of 16 weeks of continuous tracking. Mixed effects models compared weight change, average daily steps, and physical activity tracking frequency between a 4-week period of continuous tracking and a 4-week period preceding the stop in weight tracking. Additional mixed effects models investigated subsequent changes in physical activity data during 4 weeks of the 6-week long stop in weight tracking.</p> </sec> <sec> <title>RESULTS</title> <p>People lost weight during continuous tracking (M = -0.47kg, SD = 1.73) but gained weight preceding the stop in weight tracking (M = 0.25kg, SD = 1.62; difference=0.71kg, 95% CI 0.60, 0.81). Both average daily steps (ß = -220 daily steps/time period, 95% CI -320, -120) and physical activity tracking frequency (ß =-3.4 days/time period, 95% CI -3.8, -3.1) significantly declined from the continuous tracking to the pre-stop time period. From pre-stop to post-stop, physical activity tracking frequency further decreased (ß = -6.6 days/time period, P < 0.001), while daily step count on the days activity was measured increased (ß =112 daily steps/time period, P < 0.001).</p> </sec> <sec> <title>CONCLUSIONS</title> <p>In the weeks before people stop tracking their weight, their physical activity and physical activity monitoring frequency decline. At the same time, weight increases, suggesting that declining motivation for weight control and difficulties with making use of negative weight feedback might explain why people stop tracking their weight. The increase in daily steps, but decrease in physical activity tracking frequency post-stop might result from selective measurement of more active days.</p> </sec>