Bathroom scales have come a long way; just as a smart watch can do far more than just tell the time, so the new generation of weighing scales can track everything from BMI and body fat to your heart rate. Some link up with your smartphone and other devices to track your progress for 360-degree health monitoring, from bone density to hydration or muscle mass.
Some of the best smart scales will even inform you of the weather forecast - handy if you're packing your kit for a run. This is great news for people who want to track their fitness goals. However, for some, the best weight scales will still be the most straightforward.
A good set of scales should have a clear display and be easy to use. Size is also an important consideration: make sure the scales you eventually decide on are big and sturdy enough to accommodate you. Scales with little platform space for your feet won't be able to accurately measure your weight - and nobody wants scales that break after one use.
Dr Jet Khasriya, specialist in bone and mineral biology and NHS-registered and private GP for doctor-on-demand app GPDQ, shares her advice on how smart scales work.
Why are smart scales useful?
"Body profile analysis is a very useful tool in healthcare. Knowing how much fat, water, muscle and bone your body is made up of can give insight into whether you are achieving your health goals. Imagine a scenario where you trying to lose weight but have hit a wall. Knowing that you are adding muscle mass whilst losing fat and maintaining your water weight is reassuring."
How do smart scales work?
"It uses a small, non-harmful electrical impulse to measure impedance in different tissue types. If you step onto a scale with your skin exposed it can give you a rough estimate about your body composition."
Are smart scales accurate?
"The best way to measure body fat or bone density is using old fashioned callipers or more modern methods such as DEXA scanning. These are, however, quite difficult to learn and not readily available to the average consumer. While it’s true that, with the more widely available health scale technology, the exact initial measurement you are givenis not entirely accurate, the ability of the technology to log your readings allows you to see change over time, which in itself is a very reliable metric."
What are the best bathroom scales available?
"I have personally tried the Withings Body analyser scales. I’ve found them useful because of their WiFi capability and iOS integration, allowing me to record my metrics by just stepping on them every morning. They have helped me keep my fluid intake in check as well as telling me whether my effort in the gym is paying off."
What else to consider?
"Size is important: make sure the scales you eventually decide on are big and sturdy enough to accommodate you. Nobody wants scales that break after one use.
Another factor to think about when searching for the best weight scales is their resistance to humidity. Most people keep their scales in the bathroom, and it can get pretty steamy in there. Look around for scales that won't start malfunctioning when they come into contact with a little extra heat and moisture. In reality, this probably means avoiding bargain basement options.
Meanwhile, if you have carpeted or uneven floors, you might want to opt for a scale with attachable carpet feet for accuracy.
It's also always worth reading through the small print when it comes to data privacy."