OBJECTIVE: To describe self-reported weight change and beliefs about the causes of weight change and to examine whether these vary by sex and weight status. DESIGN: This cross-sectional population study examined data from the 1995 Australian National Health and Nutrition Surveys. SUBJECTS: A total of 10 624 randomly-selected adults provided data. MEASURES: Objectively measured height and weight, perceptions of current weight status, self-reported weight change over the past year, and reasons for weight change. RESULTS: Thirty-five percent of participants reported a weight gain in the last 12 months, with females, and those already overweight more likely to report a recent increase in weight. Approximately one in five participants reported a recent weight loss. Those who had recently gained weight were more likely to perceive themselves as overweight regardless of actual weight status. Commonly reported reasons for weight gain included a change in physical activity level (52% males and 35% females) and a change in the amount of food/drink consumed (30% males, 27% females). Similar reasons were given for weight loss. CONCLUSIONS: Findings of widespread reported weight gain, particularly among those already overweight, suggest Australia's obesity epidemic may be worsening. Strategies are urgently required to better inform individuals about the factors impacting on their weight in order to prevent further weight gain.
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