# Is the scale in the doctor's office measuring weight in pounds and tenths or pounds and ounces?

I thought it was pounds and tenths, so a weight of xxx.6 would be a little over xxx ½. The assistant in the office today said xxx pounds and six ounces—which would be under half a pound (16 oz. in a lb., so 8 oz. is half a pound).

I have never heard of using decimal notation to record ounces. One ounce and ten ounces would both be .1, so how would you tell them apart? This made no sense to me. After the decimal point, isn’t that tenths of a pound?

I said yes, but the assistant insisted it was ounces. Of course I know you can convert one to the other, but I am asking about the actual reading display on the scale. Was she right?

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## 10 Answers

Digital scales are in decimals.

My doctor? Just pounds. It depends on what type of scale is being used.

Depends. Some use scales that use pounds while overs use different things.

@kneesox Was it digital, or the old style with moving weights?

@Hawaii_Jake it was digital. The display appeared like this: 140.6

Thanks for reading my details.

In the examining room, where the assistant took BP and other stuff, I asked her to remind me of the scale reading so I could note it down. She said “One hundred forty pounds and six ounces.” I said I believed that was six-tenths of a pound, and she said no, it was ounces. I explained what I said in my details above, and she insisted it meant ounces.

I said that since there are 16 ounces in a pound, she must have seen displays with ten or eleven ounces, and she said, yes, all the time. So I asked her how she tells the difference between .1 and .10, since there isn’t any, in decimal terms (and I doubt that there were two decimal places anyway), and she said, “Well, I’m not an expert in math, but that’s how we show ounces.”

I didn’t think that could possibly be right, but she is supposed to be trained in this stuff and not me, so I just came here to verify.

Assuming she’s wrong, should I say anything to the doctor the next time I visit that office? Does it matter or not?

@kneesox

“Assuming she’s wrong, should I say anything to the doctor the next time I visit that office? Does it matter or not?”

Mathematically speaking:

As you probably know, the difference between 6 oz and .6 lbs is about 4 oz.

Given your weight, that’s an error of about 0.17%

I don’t think it matters, especially because *you* know it’s a digital scale.

Unless you found the assistant annoying or otherwise incompetent, I’d say it doesn’t matter.

My scale is old and only records either .0 or .5, so I always assumed that was half a pound, not 5 ounces.

Usually, a decimal indicates tenths. Like when measuring a room 10.4 feet is 10 feet and 4/10 of a foot not 4 inches.

The assistant could certainly be totally ignorant when it comes to math, that would not surprise me at all. Or, maybe she just never thought about it, but then when you mention it, if she has a brain in her head about math she would pause and realize what you asked makes sense. Maybe she’d bother to ponder whether she had ever seen 10,11,12,13,14, or 15 ounces.

She could be correct though. It certainly is much easier if the scale spells out the ounces. Or, really what would be easier is if America had changed over to metric! All of this multiplying and dividing by 8,12, and 16 is a pain in the neck.

Do you know what brand the scale was? Then we could research it.

Meanwhile, it doesn’t matter for an adult anyway whether it’s two ounces more or less, unless someone is anorexic or bulimic, but it would be interesting to know how the scale does read, just to know for the sake of knowing.

I believe that scale is giving you tenths of a pound and not ounces.

@Brian1946, thanks, I’m not concerned about the difference in my weight (and that’s not my weight, just an example). I was bothered by the assistant’s ignorance of the measure she was taking, because that seems so basic. Maybe she thinks there are 10 oz. in a pound? I don’t know.

If anything the doctor does depends on the assistant’s ability to read various scales, I would think the doctor would want to know. If I told the doctor, do you think she’d say, “Oh, that doesn’t matter. It’s close enough.”?

@Hawaii_Jake, @Tropical_Willie, I think that’s the only possible answer.

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