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How repeatable is your weight measurement? Scale problems.

A few months ago I bought a digital scale. I couldn't try it out in the store, but when I stepped on it at home it gave me weight readings everywhere between 130 and 135 pounds, in the same 5 minutes, on a level surface, with my trying to stand in the exact same place every time. This did not seem to me to be a useful level of reliability, and I returned the scale.

Last night I tried again, and bought a much more expensive digital scale. This one gives me readings between 128.4 and 131.6 -- still a range of more than 3 pounds! (not to mention wildly varying body fat estimates) Again, all measurements were within 10 minutes, with the scale in the same level place, with me standing still in the same place on it, etc.

I would not tolerate this kind of measurement error in a piece of lab equipment. Is it normal in an expensive home scale? Or should I return this scale, too? If you own a scale with more reliable measurements, what kind is it?

Wed. Aug 9, 11:49am

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I own the type of scale that is usually referred to as a "doctor's office scale" a lot of people don't like them, but I use it and when I weigh myself on other doctor's scales or even on the digital one at the gym that I go to, my weight is the same on each one so I find it extremely reliable. However, since it matches the digital one at the gym every time, I'll assume that that one is also reliable and try to find out for you what type it is and get back to you with that!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006, 12:25 PM

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I think the 3 lb variability is pretty typical of my non-professional scale. Since it is just a number, that's close enough for me. I found that a way to get past the frustration of not knowing which answer was the right on, I just take the very first reading and take it after I get up in the morning before breakfast but after a pit stop, but just with wearing something minimal. It seems pretty consistent. Plus if it goes up a pound one day, I get added incentive to watch my eating. For some reason, it rarely goes down unless it's going to stay there.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006, 9:39 PM

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I bought a $12 digital scale and find that it's annoyingly accurate, or at least consistent. Often I'd like it to lie to me and tell me that I weigh less, but it continues to tell me the same number that it originally told me when I woke up. Very annoying.

Thursday, August 10, 2006, 4:15 AM

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I have the "doctor's" scale also. I don't know how you can get more accurate (as long as it's balanced). I owned a digital w/ body fat % readings and the weight readings were ok - but the bf% readings were all over the chart. Especially noticed big differences at different times of the day, mornings were the highest!

Thursday, August 10, 2006, 8:03 AM

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To 4:15 am poster:
What is the brand name on your $12 digital scale? Thank you.

Thursday, August 10, 2006, 8:26 AM

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Hi all. I bought a 15 dollar dial scale at Kmart, and it has been really consistent. I always weigh myself fresh out of bed, in the nude, in the same place on the bathroom floor. I'm sure it will not match the doctor's scale, but that's okay, since I'm just trying to track my progress at home.

Thursday, August 10, 2006, 8:53 AM

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OP here -- Yes, I have a strong preference for "doctor's office" scales myself, but don't want to spend $220 to get one new. Also, I don't have the space for one in my apartment, unless I want to put it in the living room. :-(

And I second the request to know what brand the reliable $12 scale is! Sounds like the scale of my dreams!

Thursday, August 10, 2006, 8:57 AM

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I have a healthometer body fat scale with the two memory settings (will remember the last weight & body fat % for two people). The scale is very consistent, the body fat measurement not so much. That's normal, though, because those work by impedance, which can vary according to how much water is in your system at any given time. So it's really not a very accurate way to measure your body fat percentage.

Thursday, August 10, 2006, 9:28 AM

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I didn't read anywhere what kind of floor surface the scale was on you may have said it but I missed it, ADD kicks in sorry.... but you need a hard flat surface not just flat... if you are weighing in on carpet this could be a factor.

Thursday, August 10, 2006, 10:38 AM

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I'm the one with the $12 digital scale... I'm at work right now, but I think the brand was Thinner. I don't know if that's the brand or just what it says on the machine. I got it at Bed, Bath and Beyond after my roommate stole her scale to her boyfriend's house. I went to the store and just stood on all the scales they had as displays, several times, moving them around on the tile floor, and just bought the cheapest one.

Friday, August 11, 2006, 1:34 AM

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OP here -- thanks! Funnily enough, my new scale is the top-of-the-line "Thinner" brand scale. (They are made by Conair.) I also got it at B, B & B., although locally they have all the demo scales wired and locked in place so one can't take them down and try them.
It's still giving me more than a 3-pound range of weights this morning. And yes, it's on a hard surface. Who puts a scale on carpet?

Friday, August 11, 2006, 8:01 AM

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Well, I'm disappointed that we have not found a consistent scale yet. I guess I'll keep doing my consistent routine every morning: I step on my scale 3 times as soon as I get up, average the 3 readings, and take the average as my weight for the day.

Friday, August 11, 2006, 8:16 AM

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Go with Health-o-meter, it's awesome!

I have a Health-0-meter HDL 901 is the name. I spent $50 on it 2 years ago and it has been spot on accurate for all that time. Even when I get on twice, back to back, to see if the scale is right (ha ha), it's dead on. And when I go to the doctor the scale they have is the same as mine. I don't have body fat measurements, I find them distracting. Just a good ol' digital scale, and it's been well worth the 50 bucks.
:) Sophie77

Friday, August 11, 2006, 8:35 AM

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I'd recommend a Tanita. I bought mine at BB&B 2 years ago. Its the body fat analyzer type. I think it was $40. I'd heard good things about their scales... Mine's always been annoyingly accurate. I've tried to shift my weight/move my feet to get a better outcome, but the Tanita will have none of that!

Friday, August 11, 2006, 10:04 AM

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Same thing with the Healthometer - doesn't matter how I shift my weight...same darn weight every time.

Friday, August 11, 2006, 11:15 AM

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I ditto the comment on the Tanita -- I like mine a lot. The weight number may shift one tenth of a pound on consecutive weighings, but generally no more than that. The body fat number and water number does shift a bit more (perhaps up to 1%) but the user's manual discusses this and states that those numbers will definitely be different at different times of the day, because they are so dependent on amount of water in your body, whether you have exercise, whether you have been sleeping, etc. So, I don't take those percentages too much to heart, except to watch the trend up or down over a number of days/weeks. I do know that I want my body fat percentage to go down, and it's not, which probably means I gotta exercise more to build up my muscle mass.

Friday, August 18, 2006, 9:51 PM

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OP again --

This is what happened with my "Thinner" brand scale: I kept it for a few days (although I also kept the packaging and the receipt). Over the course of a week it became more consistent. Now I have the same experience as others -- I can step on it several times consecutively and get the same measurement. Maybe they just have a breaking-in period?

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