Ah, the good ole scale. Trusty fella who reminds us, on any given day, if we are a success or a failure.  

I’ve often wondered, “When did we start weighing ourselves?”

The Beginning

The origin of people weighing themselves traces back to the 1500s. It begins with a group of Italian scientists which includes Galileo. They were arguably the world’s first ‘self-trackers.’ 

In order to understand themselves and life, they became obsessed with measuring nearly everything.

Over the next few centuries various scales were invented, most of them huge. Certainly not a normal household item. 

When did people start critiquing their bodyweight? 

The better question is, “when did doctors start suggesting what we should weigh?” 

This begins in 1942 with the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, aka “MetLife.”

MetLife set out to make as much money as possible. Using data collected from 5 million policies in the US and Canada, they created a “desirable” height and weight chart. 

In the 1950s doctors began suggesting that their patients fall in line with the diagram produced by MetLife. 

Is it possible doctors were getting some cay$h kickbacks from MetLife? This I don’t know.

In the diagram it is suggested that a 5’4” female with a medium frame should weigh between 124-138 lbs while a 5’10” male of a medium frame should fall between 151-163 lbs.    

For the first time, doctors along with their patients became aware of a standard of what they should weigh.

This scale continued until the 1980s. In a decade that unveiled Diet Coke the McRib, doctors began using a different chart. A chart based on our height-to-weight ratio. You know this as body mass index or BMI.

The Modern Scale

Today, the scale has come to symbolize far more than data for your doctor or a life insurance company. The connection between a certain weight, beauty, and fitness is undeniable.

The truth is how much we weigh does matter. However, being overly concerned, day to day, about this number is unnecessary.