If you want to prevent yourself from putting on weight, weigh yourself at the same time every day and write down the amount. According to nutritionists at Cornell University processing information in this way prevents you from getting fatter.
American students generally put on a couple of kilograms during the first few months of their study. The exact amounts are shown in the table below. The researchers wanted to know whether they could prevent this weight increase by using a Tissue Monitoring System.
This system meant that students had to weigh themselves immediately after getting up in the morning. They then mailed their weight to the researchers. Once the researchers had received weights for 7 days, they could plot a linear progression of the subjects’ weight development, and then mailed the results every day to the students. So from day 7 the students knew whether their weight was increasing, decreasing or staying constant.
The researchers tested their Tissue Monitoring System on a dozen female freshmen students for a period of 12 weeks [Experimentals]. Another dozen first-years didn’t have to weigh themselves [Controls]. As the figure below shows, the students in the experimental group stayed the same weight and the students in the control group put on 3 kg.
A year later the researchers repeated the experiment with new freshmen, but went a step further. Not only did they measure whether the subjects in the experimental group were putting on or losing weight, they also told them by how much they needed to reduce their daily calorie intake if they wanted to stay the same weight.
This system worked even better, as the figures below show. The students in the experimental group actually lost weight.
The researchers think that systems like their Tissue Monitoring System can help to reverse the obesity epidemic.
“The first step in reversing the epidemic of obesity must be to prevent further weight gain in the population”, they write. “The results of this study raise the hope that the TMS, or a similar system that monitors daily body weight, may provide people with a technology to enable them to maintain their weight in an environment that is constantly encouraging weight gain.”
Monitoring weight daily blocks the freshman weight gain: a model for combating the epidemic of obesity.
Levitsky DA, Garay J, Nausbaum M, Neighbors L, Dellavalle DM.
Division of Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org
The Tissue Monitoring System (TMS) is an algorithm that estimates changes in body tissue from a series of daily weight measures. It is intended to provide people with a feedback of changes in their tissue weight so they may have a basis for estimating how much they would have to change their intake or expenditure to maintain their weight at a prescribed level. We tested the effectiveness of the TMS to prevent freshmen from gaining weight during their first semester in college.
In two similar but independent studies (Fall 2002, 2003), female freshmen college students were given analog bathroom scales and instructed to weigh themselves each morning immediately after rising from bed, then e-mail their weight to our staff. After 7 days, a linear function was performed on the most recent 7 days of the weight-day function for each participant. In the first study, the slope of this function was e-mailed back to the participants. In the second study, the difference between last point and the original weight was determined, using linear regression techniques, converted to calories, and the information was e-mailed back to the participants. Control participants in both studies were weighed at the beginning and the end of the semester.
The untreated controls gained 3.1+/-0.51 kg and 2.0+/-0.65 kg, respectively (P<0.01 for both studies), whereas weight gain of the experimental groups was 0.1+/-0.99 kg and -0.82+/-0.56 kg, values that were not significantly different than zero.
The TMS appears to be an effective technique to help female college freshmen resist gaining weight in an environment that is conducive to weight gain. These results suggest that the TMS may be a useful method to help curb the slow increase in the prevalence of overweight and obesity that is characteristic of all industrialized societies.
PMID: 16446748 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]