I am one of the thousands of people who have included losing weight among their purposes for the coming months. Also the first thing they do when they make a health- related decisionis to leave the pasta. When I decided to go for a run, I spent a fortune on phosphorite clothes, pronator shoes, a cover to hang my cell phone and even a ribbon so that the glasses did not fly. When the idea of swimming came to me, I quickly acquired swimming goggles, a tiny piece of cloth that served as a swimsuit, fins, tube and even some of those flip-flops that fit all the instep and prevent you from slipping. I went out to run three times; I swam two. But I still believe in the motivational aspect of financial investment, and since my old scale no longer inspired me with confidence, I decided to take my credit card for a walk again. New year, new scale.
Of course, I think that buying a bathroom scale is like buying fresh fish: you have to see the product . It is true that I carried out a previous beat on the net, where I already hit the ground with the surprisingly wide range of prices. But then I stood in a shopping center ready not only to see the product, but to get on it.
The first feeling was anguish. If weighing yourself in the privacy of your home, on an empty stomach and on balls, is already traumatic (at least for me, I’m not at my ideal weight), doing it in public, with a coat and boots, and after having a half-panettone breakfast, I plunged you into sudden despair. That despair makes me want to start the diet as soon as possible and urgently buy the scale. The question is: which of them? There are them from 11 euros to 226, and I have two doubts: 1) the more expensive, the more precise? and 2) do those that cost the most offer a better guarantee of losing weight, what is it about?
How much can you spend on a scale?
The universe of bathroom scales (I don’t know why they are called that, because I had it in the bedroom) is divided more or less in these terms:
– From 11 to 29 euros: they may come with a futuristic look, even with a digital screen, but, in general, they don’t give you more than the weight.
– From 30 to 99 euros: from that price, they not only provide you with the weight but also the body mass index (BMI), which is the result of dividing the weight by the height squared .
– From 100 euros onwards: it is like putting your feet on an iPhone. The “diagnostic” scales are synchronized with an app via bluetooth, so you receive such a flood of data (body fat, muscle mass, bone mass and more) that you get a Pythagoras complex.
There is only one way to measure weight
The first thing I need to know is if the cheapest ones are less reliable when it comes to calculating the weight, if they use a more rudimentary system. For this, I contact the spokespersons of the German firm Beurer , who tell me no. “The system for measuring weight is the same,” says Merixtell González, director of Marketing and communication for River International, the company that distributes it in Spain. The disc scales of yesteryear operated by means of levers and springs directly anchored to the disc, so that the higher the weight, the more the disc moved. In the new systems, González describes, ” the weight is calculated with sensors and microelectronics. It is as simple and complex as measuring the torsion of some bars on which the platform on which we climb is supported. ”
“But in the diagnostics there are also some electrodes that allow us to measure the percentages of muscle mass, body fat, etc.”, adds Gonozález. And it certifies that all are prepared to resist the humidity of the bathroom, and that the price difference responds only to the benefits they offer . “Diagnostics are more expensive than those that only measure kilos, and those that work with bluetooth obviously have a higher price.”
But not all are equally reliable
Without eating or drinking it (never better said), I find myself plunged into one of those inescapable dilemmas of modern life, just like deciding whether or not to renew the Amazon Prime subscription. I realize that I am not empowered to make a decision (something that happens to me frequently), so I seek advice. Joaquín San José, member of the Nutrition group of the Spanish Society of Family and Community Medicine ( semFYC ), is skeptical about the scales that give you BMI. “They are not too exact. To give you an idea, when studying if patients lose fat or muscle, those scales are not used, it would be unthinkable. They are not reliable. Even the methods that we use (either an MRI or a tomography), which are much more sophisticated and precise, also have their measurement errors. Imagine the scales that are sold to the general public, “he says.
“We know that measuring waist circumference is much more reliable than weight or BMI”, Joaquín San José (member of the Nutrition group of the Spanish Society of Family and Community Medicine)
He attributes it, primarily, to the fact that “they do not distinguish between fat and water . If one retains liquids, the machine will give a very high fat index and it will be completely wrong”, explains San José. In addition, “the measurement they do depends on the algorithms incorporated into them. Those calculations are based on the population to be weighed, and the American population is not the same as the Spanish one or the Japanese population. Those that are valid for adults are not valid for children, those that apply to children do not apply to women, those that apply to women do not apply to men… BMI, in any case, does not apply to the elderly or children. ”
José Manuel Fernández García, coordinator of the Nutrition working group of the Spanish Society of Primary Care Physicians ( Semergen ), believes that the measurement of BMI “should be carried out adequately to obtain correct data. It should not be a measure that the population perform routinely but each individual should know in what range of obesity, overweight or adequate weight is to personalize the ideal weight to be reached . ” The BMI must know how to interpret it, so “it is more important to control and adjust the weight and, therefore, to use the scale,” he added, referring to the most basic models.
The studies also indicate that, more than weight or BMI, the relevant data regarding health is visceral fat. Hence, San José adds that “what we are lately advocating is measuring the abdominal waist . There is a very high correlation between what your abdominal waist measures and visceral fat, which surrounds the liver, kidney … which is fat bad, Let’s say. It is metabolically active: it produces a substance that maintains inflammation that is not beneficial to the organs. We know that, much more reliable than weight or BMI, is the measurement of the waist circumference. If we go on a diet and start exercising, and there are changes in the waist, it means that we are not only losing weight, but we are losing fat. An individual can go on a diet and lose weight, but we don’t know how much more muscle is being lost than fat. This is verified by measuring the waist or, simply, with the holes in the belt. ”
What about “smart” scales?
On the apps connected to the scales, San José believes: ” There is no serious study that shows that they work to lose weight . Behind them, there are almost never professionals who know what they are talking about.” According to Fernández García, they can make us obsessed and, consequently, “demotivate if the objectives are not achieved . “
The truth is that the possibility of checking the grams I have lost day by day on a scale seduces me, and so I say it to San José. “In the United States, it was found that people who had lost weight and kept it off over time weighed themselves every day or every two,” he responds. “But that doesn’t mean that weighing yourself on a daily basis is effective for losing weight , it’s just what they do. The way to know if weighing yourself daily influences weight loss is to do a clinical study. It’s been done – and done since you can not. You can be weighing yourself every day, it does not depend on that you maintain the lost weight. As a psychological self-measurement technique, it serves as motivation: you verify that all the efforts you are making are worth it.Weighing yourself every day can help, but it’s not the most important factor . ”
By way of conclusion, San José estimates that, if we are determined to buy a scale, the simpler, the better . “If monitoring my weight with a bathroom scale, the cheapest one, will motivate and control me, go ahead. I would not spend money on the most sophisticated scale, because there is a brutal measurement error. Until they show me that They are good for something, I would spend more money in a gym, a good physical trainer or healthy food than on a scale, “he says. Having seen it, in the end I bought a belt.