Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 34, Issue 9, pp 1775–1781 | Cite as

Understanding Primary Care Patients’ Self-weighing Habits: Cohort Analysis from the PaTH Clinical Data Research Network

  • Carolyn T. Bramante
  • Kathleen M. McTigue
  • Harold P. Lehmann
  • Jeanne M. Clark
  • Scott Rothenberger
  • Jennifer Kraschnewski
  • Michelle R. Lent
  • Sharon J. Herring
  • Molly B. Conroy
  • Jody McCullough
  • Wendy L. Bennett
Original Research



Greater than 60% of adults have overweight or obesity. Self-weighing is an effective weight loss and weight maintenance tool. However, little is known about self-weighing habits among the primary care patient population. Our objective was to examine the frequency of patient-reported self-weighing, and to evaluate the associations of self-weighing with demographic characteristics and self-monitoring behaviors.


We conducted an analysis of survey data collected as part of the PaTH Clinical Data Research Network, which recruited a cohort of 1,021 primary care patients at 4 academic medical centers. Patients of all body mass index (BMI) categories were included.


Response rate of 6-month survey was 727 (71%). The mean age was 56 years, and most were female (68%), White (78%), college graduates (66%), and employed/retired (85%). The mean BMI was 30.2 kg/m2, 80% of participants had a BMI ≧ 25 kg/m2. Of patients with BMI ≧ 25 kg/m2, 35% of participants self-weighed weekly and 23% daily. Participants who reported self-weighing at least weekly were more likely to be older (59 vs 54 years, p < 0.01), married (p = 0.01), college graduates (p = 0.03), White (p < 0.01), and employed vs disabled/unemployed (p < 0.01). Patients who self-weighed daily had a lower BMI (29 kg/m2 vs 31 kg/m2, p = 0.04). Patients who tracked exercise or food intake were more likely to self-weigh daily (p < 0.01), as were patients wanting to lose or maintain weight (p < 0.01).


Despite its potential for primary and secondary obesity prevention, only 35% of primary care patients with overweight or obesity engage in self-weighing weekly and less than a quarter (23%) self-weigh daily. Socioeconomic status appears to be a factor influencing regular self-weighing in this population, potentially contributing to greater health disparities in obesity rates. Patients who self-weighed daily had a lower BMI, suggesting that it may play a role in primary prevention of obesity. More work is needed to explore self-weighing among patients.


self-weighing obesity weight loss primary care self-monitoring 


Funding Source

This work was funded through a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) Award (PCORI CDRN no. 1306-04912) for development of the National Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network, known as PCORnet. Dr. Bramante was funded by the Behavioral Research in Heart and Vascular Disease Program Fellowship Training Program (T32HL007180-41A1; PI: Levine, David). The views presented in this article are solely the responsibility of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), its Board of Governors or Methodology Committee, or other participants in PCORnet.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they do not have a conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

11606_2019_5153_MOESM1_ESM.docx (47 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 46 kb)


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Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carolyn T. Bramante
    • 1
    • 2
  • Kathleen M. McTigue
    • 3
  • Harold P. Lehmann
    • 4
  • Jeanne M. Clark
    • 5
  • Scott Rothenberger
    • 3
  • Jennifer Kraschnewski
    • 6
  • Michelle R. Lent
    • 7
  • Sharon J. Herring
    • 8
  • Molly B. Conroy
    • 9
  • Jody McCullough
    • 6
  • Wendy L. Bennett
    • 5
  1. 1.Division of General Internal MedicineUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA
  2. 2.Department of PediatricsUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolis, MNUSA
  3. 3.Division of General Internal MedicineUniversity of Pittsburgh School of MedicinePittsburghUSA
  4. 4.Division of Health InformaticsJohns Hopkins School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA
  5. 5.Division of General Internal MedicineJohns Hopkins School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA
  6. 6.Department of MedicinePenn State UniversityState CollegeUSA
  7. 7.Geisinger Health SystemDanville, PAUSA
  8. 8.Center for Obesity Research and EducationLewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA
  9. 9.Division of General Internal MedicineUniversity of Utah School of MedicineSalt Lake CityUSA

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