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Benefits of high-tech scales

HOUSTON – Smart scales range from $30 to $1,000.

UT Health Obesity Medicine expert Deborah Horn said scales that measure muscle mass, water weight and fat are getting more accurate and helping patients to lose weight in a healthier way.

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In her office, they use a top of the line scale, the $9,000 device can decipher what makes up body weight and can even separate weight in the arms, legs and trunk.

“The great thing about this machine is that some weeks you might do all the right things on the program you're working but the scale doesn't change and that can be really frustrating. That can happen a couple of weeks in a row. If you're looking at percent body fat, what you'll be able to see is things like actually muscle mass increasing, body fat going down, and the weight staying the same so you're changing your body composition but not changing the number on the scale and that's encouraging to see when you're working so hard,” she said.

Horn encourages patients to increase muscle mass while decreasing body fat. She said looking at pounds on a scale won’t tell you if you’re doing that correctly.

The technical name for the medical devices is a “bioelectrical impedance measurement device.” However, there are less expensive, less extensive versions you can buy for home.

“They work, they're just not as accurate because they only have one electrical frequency,” Horn said.

She confirms that can be beneficial if you're in the normal and overweight categories but she advises obese people (those with a BMI above 30) to consult with a doctor.

If you’re using a smart scale on your own, Horn said women need to aim to keep body fat under 32 percent and men need to stay under 25 percent.