Deakin University
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Measuring the accuracy of self-reported height and weight in a community-based sample of young people

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journal contribution
posted on 2012-01-01, 00:00 authored by A L Bowring, Anna PeetersAnna Peeters, R Freak-Poli, M S Lim, M Gouillou, M Hellard
BACKGROUND: Self-reported anthropometric data are commonly used to estimate prevalence of obesity in population and community-based studies. We aim to: 1) Determine whether survey participants are able and willing to self-report height and weight; 2) Assess the accuracy of self-reported compared to measured anthropometric data in a community-based sample of young people. METHODS: Participants (16-29 years) of a behaviour survey, recruited at a Melbourne music festival (January 2011), were asked to self-report height and weight; researchers independently weighed and measured a sub-sample. Body Mass Index was calculated and overweight/obesity classified as ≥25 kg/m². Differences between measured and self-reported values were assessed using paired t-test/Wilcoxon signed ranks test. Accurate report of height and weight were defined as <2 cm and <2 kg difference between self-report and measured values, respectively. Agreement between classification of overweight/obesity by self-report and measured values was assessed using McNemar's test. RESULTS: Of 1405 survey participants, 82% of males and 72% of females self-reported their height and weight. Among 67 participants who were also independently measured, self-reported height and weight were significantly less than measured height (p=0.01) and weight (p<0.01) among females, but no differences were detected among males. Overall, 52% accurately self-reported height, 30% under-reported, and 18% over-reported; 34% accurately self-reported weight, 52% under-reported and 13% over-reported. More females (70%) than males (35%) under-reported weight (p=0.01). Prevalence of overweight/obesity was 33% based on self-report data and 39% based on measured data (p=0.16). CONCLUSIONS: Self-reported measurements may underestimate weight but accurately identified overweight/obesity in the majority of this sample of young people.



BMC medical research methodology



Article number



1 - 8


BioMed Central


London, Eng.





Publication classification

C Journal article; C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2012, Bowring et al.