Weighing Your Options

If you want to know whether you're gaining or losing weight, the scale doesn't lie. But choosing a scale these days can be a weighty task, to say the least. There are so many, some all about style, others about function. But how well do they work? Does expensive mean better? We decided to get an expert to give us the skinny on what's out there.

The bathroom scale has certainly come a long way, with many of today's models giving you more to ponder than pounds.

"There's tons of reasons to be healthy. You want to be a healthy body weight but it's not something you want to become obsessed about," says dietitian Kristen Herlocker.

Kristen says some can even measure your body fat, but that information isn't critical to weight loss. "I don't think it's that big of a focus on your body fat percentage. Definitely you want it as low as possible but it's not something that I think that the average person needs to be testing a day."

Along with function, comes form. Many of these devices are designed to be part of your decor.

"I do like the acrylic scale because it's stylish," says Michele Seda.

It all sounds nice but, in the end, what really counts?

"The thing I look for when buying a scale is accuracy," says Michele.

"I look for a scale that's going to be accurate," says Michael Tocca.

From intricate digital machines, to old-fashioned dial devices, which ones are pound perfect? We tried out three popular models: a Tanita digital scale- at 49.99, it measures body fat in addition to weight. A digital model by Health-O-Meter costs 39.99 and is strictly about weight and style. The cheapest of our bunch- a classic analog scale by Taylor for 9.99. We compared them to an official medical scale, with the help of doctor Denis Weinberg.

Our testers, Michael and Michele, first weighed in on the doctor's scale, followed by our three test models. The results? The Tanita was right on the money for Michael and only about a half pound off for Michele. The Health-O-Meter, was off six tenths and two tenths respectively.. The most inexpensive scale, the Taylor, was off one pound with Michael, only a half pound for Michele.

Doctor Weinberg says he's pleasantly surprised by the findings. "I thought the run of the mill scale would be less accurate, and it turned out to be as accurate as the scales with the bells and the whisltes."

But, despite those slightly "off" fat readings, our testers are sold.

"I'll buy one that does the weight and the body fat. I might actually go out and get one," says Michele.

But which ever scale you choose, our dietitian has a few tips. "The thing I try to encourage patients to do is just weigh once a week preferably in the morning and just do it once a week and track it at home that way. "

Tanita, the company that makes the scale with the fat monitor, says if you have a pacemaker, you should not use the body fat monitor feature on the scale. The body fat feature passes a low-level electrical signal through the body and may interfere with the operation of the pacemaker.

Amy Tatum, reporting.