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Association Between Weight Misperception and Some Mental Health-Related Characteristics in Korean Adolescents

Authors Lee KH, Bong SH, Kang DH, Choi TY, Kim JW

Received 15 October 2020

Accepted for publication 20 November 2020

Published 10 December 2020 Volume 2020:16 Pages 3053—3062


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Taro Kishi

Keon Hui Lee,1,* Su Hyun Bong,1,* Dae Hun Kang,2 Tae Young Choi,1 Jun Won Kim1

1Department of Psychiatry, Catholic University of Daegu School of Medicine, Daegu, Republic of Korea; 2Department of Psychiatry, The Armed Forces Daejeon Hospital, Daejeon, Republic of Korea

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Correspondence: Jun Won Kim
Catholic University of Daegu School of Medicine, 17-Gil 33 Duryugongwon-Ro, Nam-Gu Daegu 42472, South Korea
Tel +82-53-650-4780
Fax +82-53-623-1694

Background: Obesity in adolescents is associated with their mental as well as physical health. Adolescents tend to have negative or distorted perceptions about their body weight; however, the effects of such weight misperception on mental health remain unclear. This study investigated the association between weight misperception and mental health in Korean adolescents.
Methods: The analysis was based on the Korea Youth Risk Behavior web-based survey 2017 dataset, which included data from 62,276 middle and high school students at 800 schools throughout Korea. The students were divided into three groups according to whether they overestimated their body weight, underestimated it, or had no misperception. The mental health characteristics of the overestimation and no misperception groups were compared through multiple logistic regression analysis.
Results: Based on their body mass index, male adolescents were more likely to be overweight than female adolescents (p < 0.001) and less likely to have weight misperception. The female adolescents were more likely to overestimate their body weight and less likely to underestimate it (p < 0.001). The male adolescents and female adolescents who overestimated their body weight had significantly lower levels of subjective happiness than their peers had and were more likely to experience subjective stress, sadness/despair, suicidal ideation, and suicide planning. Compared with their peers who have no misperception, male adolescents with overestimation were less likely to drink alcohol (odds ratio [OR], 0.903) or smoke (OR, 0.871), whereas female adolescents with overestimation were more likely to drink alcohol (OR, 1.107) and smoke (OR, 1.130).
Conclusion: Male and female adolescents who overestimated their body weight experienced more psychological problems. Thus, interventions to assist adolescents to gain realistic weight perception may be beneficial. Particularly, more attention needs to be given to female adolescents, who are more likely to overestimate their body weight compared with their male counterparts.

Keywords: weight perception, adolescent, mental health, body mass index, body image

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