Bathroom scales and weight 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 bathroom 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 (check out our pick of the best weight scales - the Fitbit Aria 2 smart scale, available for £119.99 at Currys, and the Garmin Index smart scale, £94.99 at Amazon).
However, for some, the best weight scales will still be the most straightforward (in this guide, we highly recommend a set of sturdy glass digital scales from John Lewis for only £18). In any case, 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.
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.
1. Garmin Index smart scale
The shiny Garmin Index smart bathroom scale in black looks positively James Bond-esque, with an attractive design and pretty much all the functions you could ask for (the black quickly shows finger and foot marks though, so white could be a better option - currently more expensive in white, at £101.34).
The battery-operated model (it uses four AA cells) can accommodate up to 15 users, and needs to be connected to Wi Fi and the free Garmin Connect app in order to be set up.
It measures weight, body mass index, body fat, muscle mass and bone mass. The bright LCD display has large numbers against a black background, allowing easy visibility. You can link it up to Garmin's other smart trackers and Garmin Edge GPS bike computers, too (£109.99, Amazon). It provides consistent results, and we recommend it highly.
2. Fitbit Aria 2 smart scale in white
Fitbit's Aria, "for the technologically-advanced weight watcher" was the company's first foray into the scales market. Now, they've launched the Aria 2. It's sturdy and there's enough space for you to place your feet comfortably. The LED display is bright and easy to read. The Aria 2 calculates your body fat percentage by passing a small electrical current through your bare feet, offering up accurate results.
The FitBit Aria connects to your WiFi network, and syncs information including your weight, lean mass and body fat percentage to your computer or device, which can be accessed through the Fitbit website or app. On it, you can find graphs showing the progress of your weight loss and fitness regime.
The FitBit Aria is perfect for large families or house shares as it recognises up to eight people, and it's compatible with iOS, Windows and Android (the results are synced to your own mobile device privately, so no one else will be able to view your progress.) It also comes in black.
3. Under £20: Salter ultra-slim glass analyser
This glass analyser received top marks from us for ease-of-use and accurate readings of weight, body fat, total body water and BMI. It uses BIA (Bio Impedance Analysis) technology, which passes a tiny electrical impulse through the body to determine fat from lean tissue.
It's simple to set up a personal data entry with sex, height, age, user number using the up and down and "set" buttons. A fuss-free gadget which will help you to set your goals and then track your progress.
4. Under £20: Digital glass bathroom scale
Unlike smart scales, these scales do not analyse BMI or any other additional measurements. However, they're made from a toughened glass, are sturdy and provide enough platform space for you to stand on comfortably. They have an easy to read LCD display revealing your weight extremely accurately in numerical form.
They are also fitted with 'carpet feet' to reduce any chance of inaccuracy due to uneven floors. A small button allows you to switch between kilos and pounds.
5. Nokia Body+ body composition Wi-Fi scale
You can connect the Nokia Body+ body composition Wi-Fi scale to the Health Mate app to keep track of your goals and history. It works well for a variety of goals, so it's a good option whether you're aiming to lose weight, get active, sleep better or even monitor your blood pressure.
It recognises up to eight users and also measures fat mass, muscle mass, water percentage (to check hydration and retention) and bone mass. You can even monitor your nutrition - just tell Health Mate your target weight and how fast you want to get there, then you’ll get a daily calorie budget.
Note that Withings merged with Nokia, so Nokia health products are now synonymous with Withings scales.
6. Beurer GS80 glass bathroom scales
This bright white scale set from Beurer boasts a range of features, displaying not only your weight, but the time, indoor and outdoor temperatures, and the local weather forecast. You can attach the weatherproof outdoor sensor on a wall and get temperature readings in either celsius or fahrenheit and a weather forecast each morning.
The LCD displays are clear and easy to read, though it can get a little busy and differentiating between the five first thing in the morning might be tricky for some.
Despite offering extras such as temperature and a weather forecast, the scales don't measure BMI - which is surprising given its other capabilities.
7. Under £20: Collection bamboo digital bathroom scales
These very accurate battery-operated bamboo scales are a great budget option for those on a budget. Made from natural bamboo, they're also visually pleasing - and can withstand weights of up to 180kg.
They provide enough space to comfortably stand on and accurately calculate your weight in real time, switching between imperial and metric measurements.
8. Omron BF511 family body composition monitor
More than just a set of scales, the Omron family body clinical composition monitor also gives you precise and in-depth body fat measurements. It reads not only body fat percentage, but also visceral fat, resting metabolism and skeletal muscle percentage to help you meet your fitness and weight goals. It uses both feet and hand sensors to accurately analyse and display your measurements.
If you don't mind fiddling around with the various buttons to get the measurements you need, the Omron provides accurate, in-depth information.
9. Salter 145 mechanical bathroom scale
The trusty Salter 145 mechanical scale has a rather retro look about it. Sturdy and with a generous amount of foot room to keep you balanced, the scales can hold weights up to 150kg. There are no bells and whistles, but for a simple set of scales, the Salter 145 mechanical scale is a great choice.
10. Under £20: Accuweight high-accuracy skidproof digital scales
The design isn't particularly attractive, but for those liable to slip in the bathroom or who are cautious and perhaps hoping to avoid a nasty fall, the nobbly texture of the skidproof scales may be a boon. We found it to be accurate in terms of measuring weight - but compared with the new smart scales, it has limited functionality.
While we love the retro look and the simplicity of the classic Salter 145 mechanical bathroom scale (£25.59, Amazon), the new breed of smart scales have exciting features to offer - many of which are easy to use thanks to their connectivity to apps and other devices, and their clear, easy to read LCD screens.
Of these, we particularly rated the Garmin Index smart scale (£94.99, Amazon), the Nokia Body+ body composition Wi-Fi scale (£49.99 - £59.95, John Lewis). We also got on well with the Fitbit Aria 2 smart scale in white (£119.99, Currys).
According to Dr Daniel Wright (NHS-registered and private GP for GPDQ the UK’s first doctor-on-demand app, and medical director of VIVA medi-clinics private GP practice in Harley Street), such scales are a stress-free way to monitor your health - but if in doubt, you should still seek professional medical advice.
"There are a number of bathroom scales available now which endeavour to measure bone density using a different method, using ‘bioelectrical impedance analysis’ (BIA). These bathroom scales send a very small electric current through your body. Given bone, fat, muscle and other tissues all conduct electricity at a different amount, the scale can then calculate your bone mass. This measure is proportional to your total body water," he explains.
“However, given that this total body water is the factor against in which they measure against, they can be very sensitive to hydration, to how much fluid is in your body. The devices invariably try and take this into account and negate this by issuing quite strict instructions about weighing yourself, time of day, fluid and food intake. Other factors you may want to take into consideration are your menstrual cycle and caffeine and alcohol intake. This is difficult to be exact about however, given your daily diet variation and external environment factors.
“Studies comparing these machines with traditional methods did show relatively poor accuracy about body composition, principally due to the above reasons.
“If you are aware of all the possible factors which can cause an inaccurate reading and try to keep your lifestyle as consistent as possible, though, despite their flaws, the scales are a stress-free, at-home way to monitor your health over a prolonged time. They will give you a general picture, showing any long-term changes in your body composition. This may keep you incentivised in keeping your health at the forefront of your mind, and may be good for tracking changes with a diet and exercise program.
“If you have concerns regarding your bone mineral density and believe you are at high risk for osteoporosis, do not rely on these devices, but seek medical advice from your GP."