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Health Advice
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Scales Buying Guide

Scales Buying Guide
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Many people track body weight to ensure they stay in a healthy range, and for the millions of people who go on a weight-loss diet each year, a good-quality scale is an essential tool. As you choose a scale, keep the following in mind.

  • Health insurance may cover the cost of a home scale, or you may be able to use a health savings account to pay for one. Call your insurance provider to find out before making your purchase.
  • Place the scale on a flat, hard surface for the most accurate readings.
  • Heavier weight that makes it difficult for scales to shift around can be an indication of higher quality.
  • Before purchasing, weigh yourself five times in a row. If you get the same number all five times, the scale has good precision.
  • To check accuracy, compare weight from your home scale against weight on an upright scale at a doctor’s office. These numbers should be the same or very close to one another.
  • Many things cause short-term weight fluctuations, including how much and what you’ve eaten, whether you’ve exercised recently, whether you’re properly hydrated, what you’re wearing, and time of day. Weigh yourself once per week or less if you’re trying to lose weight; daily fluctuations can lead to dieting frustration.
  • Basic Mechanical Scale (Dial)

    What they are: Mechanical, or analog, scales have a dial readout displaying weight in pounds and kilograms.

    Why to buy: Mechanical scales tend to be less expensive, don’t require a battery, may come with extra large numbers for ease of use, and are the simplest to use.

    Things to consider: Over time, mechanical scales may consistently add or subtract a few pounds. Most come with a tension knob to adjust the scale as required

  • Digital Scale with Added Features

    What they are: These scales give a digital (and sometimes audio) readout of weight.

    Why to buy: Digital scales may have features to allow storing and tracking weight over time, may have the ability to switch between pounds and kilograms, and may provide voice readouts of weight. If several family members are using one scale, consider a model with a multiple-user memory function.

    Things to consider: If you’re concerned about cost and ease of use, a mechanical scale may be a better choice. Digital scales require batteries, which need to be replaced when they wear out, so consider buying a rechargeable set for best value.

  • Digital Scale with Full Features

    What they are: Digital scales with full features can measure and track body weight, body mass index, percent body fat and lean body mass, hydration status, and bone mass.

    Why to buy: These models are a good choice for those who want the most information about weight and related measures. Tracking fat and lean body mass can motivate some people to more consistently follow a healthy diet and exercise plan.

    Things to consider: Extra features often mean higher cost. These models provide an idea of fat and lean mass, bone mass, and hydration, but are not always completely accurate. You should not rely on results from these scales to make important medical decisions. Digital scales require batteries, which need to be replaced when they wear out, so consider buying a rechargeable set for best value.


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