Health & Wellness

Gym removes 'triggering' scale, sparking controversy

If weighing yourself makes you stressed out, should scales disappear from gyms?

A Canadian university is under scrutiny for removing a scale from its fitness center, with the controversy focused on a student’s comments that scales can be “triggering.”

Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, removed the scale two weeks ago to prevent people from obsessing about weight. Since then, the school has received both positive and negative feedback about the move, said Bruce Marshall, manager of wellness programs at Carleton University.

“Many fitness [centers] are moving away from having scales in their facilities as they are not considered a good health marker,” Marshall told TODAY, in a statement.

“We provided some educational information on various health measurements as we are hoping to shift the focus away from weight.”

The school will continue to monitor feedback before it makes a permanent decision, he added. One option under consideration is providing scales in both the women’s and men’s bathrooms.

Some students praised the university’s move as a way to help people with eating disorders.

“Scales are very triggering,” one woman said, according to The Charlatan, a campus newspaper. “I think people are being insensitive because they simply don’t understand. They think eating disorders are a choice when they are actually a serious illness.”

But other students were baffled by the decision.

“If they can’t handle the number that shows up on the scale, then don’t step on it,” a man told the newspaper.

RELATED: 'Just a number': Woman shows off leaner body, heavier weight

Other fitness centers have taken similar steps — if only temporarily in some cases. A gym at Chico State in California removed scales from its locker rooms for National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, for example.

The controversy in Canada is sparking a lively debate on Reddit.

“Why not just remove the gym? You know, so no one gets triggered?” one Reddit user asked.

“A scale is like a blood pressure measuring device. You don't remove that because someone has high blood pressure. You need it even more. It is a health concern,” another said.

But one commenter agreed scales can be problematic for some people.

“My fiancée recovered from an eating disorder and we don't keep a scale in the house because if we did, she would weigh herself after every meal and feel horrible about it. People with severe eating disorders don't process the information in a healthy way,” he wrote.

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