Accuracy of self-reported measures of height and weight in children and adolescents

Ana Paula Domingues, Analiza Monica Silva, Margarida Gaspar de Matos, Luis Calmeiro

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Abstract

The aim of the current study is twofold: to determine the validity of self-reported BMI using BMI calculated from measured weight and height as the standard measurement; and to investigate whether the degree of agreement is influenced by potential variables such as, age, gender, school grade, and body image.

A sample of 719 students (mean age = 13.6 years) stratified by grade and gender, attending sixth and eighth grades in regular schools, answered the questionnaire based on the Health Behavior in School-aged Children (HBSC) survey. This questionnaire implies answering several other questions regarding body image. Self-reported and measured weight and height were obtained.

The prevalence of overweight based on self-reported data is not significantly different from the prevalence of overweight based on the measured data. However, adolescents who considered themselves as having extreme "overweight" when choosing their perceived self-image in a set of pictures, tended to underestimate their Body Mass Index (BMI).

These findings confirm that BMI based on self-reported weight and height is not totally accurate for BMI estimation at an individual clinical level. Nevertheless, self-reported BMI may be used as a simple and valid tool for BMI estimation of overweight and obesity in epidemiological studies.



Two objectives of the present study are to determine the validity of self-reported BMI using the BMI calculated from the weight and height measured as the standard measure and to investigate whether the degree of agreement is influenced by variables such as age, gender , year of schooling, and body image.

The sample consisted of 719 students with an average age of 13.6 years, and was stratified by sex, and schooling, of the sixth and eighth year of schooling in regular schools. These students answered a questionnaire based on health behavior in school-age children (HBSC / WHO - www.hbsc.org ). This questionnaire involves answering several other questions about body image. Both self-reported and measured weight and height were obtained.

The prevalence of overweight based on self-reported data is not significantly different from the prevalence of overweight based on measured data. However, adolescents who considered themselves to be overweight when choosing their self-image perceived in a set of images, showed a tendency to underestimate the BMI.

These results confirm previous findings that BMI (Body Mass Index) based on self-reported measures of weight and height is not entirely accurate to estimate BMI at clinical and individual levels. However, self-reported BMI measurements can be used as a simple and valid tool for estimates of BMI of overweight and obesity in epidemiological studies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-51
Number of pages11
JournalRevista de Psicologia da Criança e do Adolescente/Child and Adolescent Psychology
Volume2
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes

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Body Mass Index
Weights and Measures
Body Image
Health Behavior
Students
Epidemiologic Studies
Obesity
Child Behavior
Surveys and Questionnaires

Cite this

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Accuracy of self-reported measures of height and weight in children and adolescents. / Domingues, Ana Paula; Silva, Analiza Monica; Matos, Margarida Gaspar de; Calmeiro, Luis.

In: Revista de Psicologia da Criança e do Adolescente/Child and Adolescent Psychology, Vol. 2, No. 2, 2011, p. 41-51.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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