Research shows that stepping onto the scale frequently can be an effective motivator to help you shed weight and keep it off. But today’s digital devices do so much more than simply display pounds. Consumer Reports has advice on buying scales and recently tested six that measure not only weight but also things like body mass index and fat.
The scales work by passing a very small electrical current through your body. Electrical current passes differently through fat and muscle, and based on the amount of current, the scales can determine your body composition.
Consumer Reports tested accuracy by sending volunteers to a university lab, where they measured body fat using a highly sophisticated device called a Bod Pod. Consumer Reports used that scientific benchmark for each volunteer, to assess each scale’s accuracy at reporting body fat. None of them came close to the numbers from the Bod Pod for all of the volunteers.
They weren’t very accurate at measuring body fat, but they were consistent. So if you want to track your body-fat composition over time, they are useful.
That said, the $80 Tanita provides the best combination of accuracy for weight and consistence for body fat.
The Fitbit Aria Smart Scale, $130, can send results right to your smartphone, using Wi-Fi.
It’s useful to know how much body fat you have, but a better indication of your overall health is body mass index, which you can calculate knowing your height and your weight. All you really need to do that is a basic scale like Consumer Reports top-rated scale, the Taylor 7506, $25.