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Misperceptions of weight status among adolescents: sociodemographic and behavioral correlates

Authors Bodde A, Beebe TJ, Chen LP, Jenkins S, Perez-Vergara K, Rutten LJF, Ziegenfuss JY

Received 13 August 2014

Accepted for publication 22 September 2014

Published 11 December 2014 Volume 2014:5 Pages 163—171


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Robert Howland

Amy E Bodde,1 Timothy J Beebe,1 Laura P Chen,2 Sarah Jenkins,3 Kelly Perez-Vergara,4 Lila J Finney Rutten,5 Jeanette Y Ziegenfuss6

1Division of Health Care Policy and Research, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA; 2Seattle Children’s Hospital, Seattle, WA, USA; 3Division of Biomedical Statistics and Informatics, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA; 4Children’s Hospital, Boston, MA, USA; 5Division of Epidemiology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN USA; 6HealthPartners Institute for Education and Research, Minneapolis, MN, USA

Objective: Accurate perceptions of weight status are important motivational triggers for weight loss among overweight or obese individuals, yet weight misperception is prevalent. To identify and characterize individuals holding misperceptions around their weight status, it may be informative for clinicians to assess self-reported body mass index (BMI) classification (ie, underweight, normal, overweight, obese) in addition to clinical weight measurement.
Methods: Self-reported weight classification data from the 2007 Current Visit Information – Child and Adolescent Survey collected at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, were compared with measured clinical height and weight for 2,993 adolescents.
Results: While, overall, 74.2% of adolescents accurately reported their weight status, females, younger adolescents, and proxy (vs self) reporters were more accurate. Controlling for demographic and behavioral characteristics, the higher an individual's BMI percentile, the less likely there was agreement between self-report and measured BMI percentile. Those with high BMI who misperceive their weight status were less likely than accurate perceivers to attempt weight loss.
Conclusion: Adolescents’ and proxies’ misperception of weight status increases with BMI percentile. Obtaining an adolescent's self-perceived weight status in addition to measured height and weight offers clinicians valuable baseline information to discuss motivation for weight loss.

Keywords: BMI, obesity, weight perception, adolescents, primary care

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