Objective: To investigate lay peoples’ knowledge of health risks of overweight, accuracy of self-perception of body weight and perceived benefits of weight loss. Method: A nine item questionnaire was administered to a cross sectional survey of adults in metropolitan shopping centres, height and weight were measured. Results: Two hundred and nine (57% female) adults completed the survey. Thirty eight percent had a healthy BMI (18.5-24.9), 38% were overweight (BMI 25-29.9) and a further 22% were obese (BMI>30). However only 46% perceived themselves ‘overweight’, 50% considered themselves ‘just about right’ and 4% considered themselves ‘underweight’. Of those with a BMI of 25 or greater 28% considered their weight ‘just about right’. Over 80% thought ‘being overweight’ was ‘likely’ or ‘very likely’ to be a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes and stroke; however 20% of overweight or obese individuals did not think their health would improve if they lost weight. Conclusion: A significant proportion of overweight or obese individuals do not accurately perceive their body weight and do not recognise the health advantages of weight loss despite recognising excess body weight as a risk factor for chronic diseases. Implications: Increasing the awareness of an individual’s BMI and promoting the benefits of modest weight loss maybe two underutilized strategies for population level weight control.
Field of Research
111103 Nutritional Physiology 111711 Health Information Systems (incl Surveillance)
Socio Economic Objective
970111 Expanding Knowledge in the Medical and Health Sciences
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