Rate & Reveal: Body Weight Scales

Studio 5 Health and Fitness Contributor Melanie Douglass rates 5 different body weight scales, from low to high end.

Whether you buy a $10.00 traditional scale or an $80 deluxe composition scale, the following recommendations apply to all scales and can help you have a healthy body image and a healthy mindset in all faucets of life.

– Weigh yourself about once a week.

– Weigh yourself on the day of the week.

– Weigh yourself at approximately the same time of day.

– Weigh yourself wearing the same types of clothes.

– Weight yourself on the same scale

Here are the results from my recent review of body weight sales:

1. Traditional Scale

$10 – $20

Find it: any retail store like Walmart or Target

Pros: no batteries required, easy to use

Cons: can be difficult to read, not as precise as digital readouts

Recommended? YES!

I think these scales are simple, cheap and easy to use. Try not to get caught up in readings that show a .3 (or worse a .03) change in body weight. It’s almost like too much information and it gives you more to stress about. I prefer to know my weight to the nearest whole number… and as long as I stay within +/- 3 – 4 pounds of that one consistent number, I can have a healthy, non-obsessive mindset about my health and body weight.

2. Digital Scale: THINNER Digital Precision Scale

Cost: $19.99

Find it: Bed, Bath & Beyond

Pros: greater accuracy, easy to read LCD screen.

Cons: batteries required.

Recommended? YES!

If you want to go digital, this is a great buy for an easy-to-use digital scale. It doesn’t offer any extra features, but it’s accurate, consistent measurement tool for body weight.

3. Digital Scale: THINNER Digital Extreme Accuracy Scale

Cost: $39.99

Find it: Bed, Bath & Beyond

Pros: it looks cool with it’s elegant glass platform and has a “lifetime” battery (vs. a “long life” battery in a similar scale that’s half the price).
Cons: the exact same “extreme accuracy” technology is found in the $20 version.

Recommended? Only if elegant glass is worth $20 bucks.

4. Health Scale: 501 Health Station Scale

Cost: $39.99

Find it: Bed, Bath & Beyond

Pros: larger foot surface, calculates weight, BMI and calorie requirements and assess “normal” “overweight” or “underweight”.

Cons: BMI isn’t something that needs to be tracked every day, the calorie recommendations are a bit high… and most of us need to be reminded to eat less not more!

Recommended? No.

The only reason I don’t recommend this scale is that you can buy a nice digital scale for half the price and you can use simple online tools (like www.mypryamid.gov) to find more accurate daily calorie recommendations.

5. Body Analysis Scale: Weight Watchers Glass Body Analysis Scale

Cost: $69.99

Find it: Bed, Bath & Beyond

Pros: measures weight, body fat in pounds, body fat %, body water %, and bone mass.

Cons: expensive… but if you want to track body fat %, this is the best scale I’ve seen in a long time. Bioelectical impedence body fat % measurements have flaws (see more info below).

Recommended? Yes, but only if you want to track more than just body weight on a consistent basis.

A scale like this uses bioelectrical impedence to measure body fat. This is a safe, indirect method that sends a low electrical current through the lower half of the body; and because the current flows more quickly through water and muscle and bone and fat, the scale can then use a mathematical formula to calculate body composition. Bioelectrical impedence isn’t the most accurate method of testing body fat because highly sensitive to hydration status and body temperature; additionally, it only sends the signal through the lower half of the body (an area often more muscular than our abdomen and upper body). It’s impractical to get a direct accurate measurement of body fat, so this method works fine, but just remember that its not necessarily the exact number %…. it’s really about the change. This scale can tell you if your body fat is going up or down — and that’s what’s really helpful.

If you find yourself wondering if your scale is just “off”, simply place an object with a pre-set, consistent weight on the scale. For example, a 10# dumbbell, a 3# can of Crisco shortening, or any other manufactured product with an exact weight listed on the label. Every scale is different and may have different methods to calibrate and assess accuracy so be sure to check the users manual as well.

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