Bathroom Scale Buying Guide

Today’s bathroom scales do more than just tell you what you weigh. Many now determine the percentage of your weight that comes from fat. Some also calculate your body mass index, or BMI, which measures your weight in relation to your height. And some scales allow you to upload all that information to your smartphone or computer, so you can track changes in those body measurements over time and, if you choose, share the measurements with friends.

All the bathroom scales in the ratings are digital, not analog. Some require a tap of the foot before you step aboard. They use lithium or AAA batteries and turn off automatically to prolong battery life. Most also have a low-battery indicator. All the scales can handle at least 330 pounds; some can handle 400.

Looking to shed (or gain) a few pounds before summer? We recently tested 10 bathroom scales from brands like AmazonBasics, FitBit, Taylor, and Weight Watchers, among others, and reported on the models that were most accurate (no more blaming the scale for wild weight fluctuations!).

How We Test Scales

In our labs, we put bathroom scales through a number of tests. We use a calibrated lab scale that displays the correct weight to the hundredth of a pound as our reference to weigh stackable weights, which we then use to mimic individuals weighing 30, 60, 90, 120, 150, 180, 210, and 325 pounds. (According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average weight of an adult male is 200 pounds; the average adult female, 171 pounds.) We compare the readings from each bathroom scale to those of the lab scale to determine the accuracy of each model. 

We take multiple readings of each weight on each scale to determine a model’s consistency rating. Our tester also stands in different positions on each scale to see whether the readings change—most didn’t change, but you’d be surprised about how much the display can vary based on how you shift your stance. That makes up our unbalanced weighing rating. Our ease-of-use rating assesses how large the numbers on the display are, how simple it is to adjust the scale to your preferences, and whether you can read the scale without needing to turn on a light.

What We Found
The best bathroom scales were accurate within one-half of a percentage point of the weight we used in each test. All were at least very good at repeating the weight they’d measured. But none of the scales we tested were accurate for measuring body fat.

Bottom Line
All the digital scales that we recommend measure weight accurately; some are able to transmit data to your smart phone. Although the body-fat scales we tested weren’t accurate at determining body fat percentage, they offer other features you might like, such as sending your measurements to your computer or smart phone so that you can keep track of your weight. The ratings (available to members) provide details.

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