The most accurate scales are the no-springs type found in doctors' offices¾the kind with an eye-level bar and sliding weights. Scales of this sort can be read to the nearest eighth of a pound. They cost several hundred dollars, however. A good alternative, typically priced from $40 to $80, is digital electronic bathroom scales. Some of these can be read to the nearest tenth of a pound. The best digitals use electronic strain gauges that are unaffected by temperature changes or the position of your feet on the scales.
This is not to say ordinary bathroom scales are useless. They will do quite nicely if you choose a quality brand with a large dial, a sharp indicator needle, and good "repeatablity." Test them by weighing yourself five or six times and seeing if the reading fluctuates. In general, the larger and heavier the scales, the better. (This is true of digital models, too. And don't forget to test them for repeatability. Some are no more reliable than the cheapest ordinary scales.)
But the best scale is neither of the above.
If you want to do the most for your health, however, you'll buy an electronic body-fat scale. It measures not only your weight but a far more important indicator: the percentage of your body that is fat. It's also one of the largest-selling health tools on the market today. Good models are priced from $70 to $180.
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Last Modified: 10/6/06