Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Most people fudge numbers on weight and height surveys

Date:
January 27, 2012
Source:
Health Behavior News Service, part of the Center for Advancing Health
Summary:
When people in the U.S. are asked to provide their weight for research surveys, they underestimate their weight and overestimate their height, despite numerous public reports about increasing rates of obesity. Whites are more likely to do so than Blacks or Hispanics, finds a new study.

When people in the U.S. are asked to provide their weight for research surveys, they underestimate their weight and overestimate their height, despite numerous public reports about increasing rates of obesity. Whites are more likely to do so than Blacks or Hispanics, a new study finds.

Many surveys about body weight rely on participants to report their height and weight, because it is less expensive and easier than measuring. Under-reporting one's body mass index (BMI) is common across all gender and ethnic groups, according to the study, but the researchers don't believe the practice makes a huge impact on how we view the nation's obesity numbers.

"In terms of studies examining risk factors of obesity, I don't think the under-reporting is a huge problem," said lead author Ming Wen, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Utah.

The study, which appears in the journal Ethnicity & Disease, relied on data from the 2007-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and looked at reports from 2,672 men and 2,671 women. NHANES includes both self-reported and measured height, weight, and BMI grouped by gender and ethnicity. The researchers also looked at overweight and obesity status, education, age and poverty status.

Wen and her colleague, Lori Kowaleski-Jones, Ph.D., found that in all ethnic groups, both men and women overestimate their height. Women also under-report their BMI more than men do, and White women are more likely to do so compared to Black and Hispanic women. The authors speculated this was because White women have a stronger social "desire for a lean body" and were more acutely aware of their weight problems. Those who were overweight, in the oldest age group and who had a college education were also more likely to under-report their BMI.

The researchers said, however, the under-reporting bias is "generally small" with the range of difference between measured and self-reported BMI falling within the 1 BMI unit range.

Wen said their results highlight the care that should be taken when making comparisons of BMI across different U.S. socio-demographic groups.

Dori Rosenberg, Ph.D., an assistant investigator at Group Health Research Institute in Seattle who specializes in obesity prevention and control, agreed.

"The paper underscores that there may be slight differences by race or ethnicity which should be emphasized when making conclusions at the population level based on reported height and weight," she said. "Therefore, when studies are able to use measured height and weight, they should do so."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Health Behavior News Service, part of the Center for Advancing Health. The original article was written by Glenda Fauntleroy. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Wen M., Kowaleski-Jones L. Sex and Ethnic Differences in Validity of Self-reported Adult Height, Weight and Body Mass Index. Ethnicity & Disease, Volume 22, Winter 2012

Cite This Page:

Health Behavior News Service, part of the Center for Advancing Health. "Most people fudge numbers on weight and height surveys." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 January 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120127162418.htm>.
Health Behavior News Service, part of the Center for Advancing Health. (2012, January 27). Most people fudge numbers on weight and height surveys. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120127162418.htm
Health Behavior News Service, part of the Center for Advancing Health. "Most people fudge numbers on weight and height surveys." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120127162418.htm (accessed April 24, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Big Pharma Braces for M&A Wave

Big Pharma Braces for M&A Wave

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 22, 2014) Big pharma on the move as Novartis boss, Joe Jimenez, tells Reuters about plans to transform his company via an asset exchange with GSK, and Astra Zeneca shares surge on speculation that Pfizer is looking for a takeover. Joanna Partridge reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Study Says Most Crime Not Linked To Mental Illness

Study Says Most Crime Not Linked To Mental Illness

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) A new study finds most crimes committed by people with mental illness are not caused by symptoms of their illness or disorder. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hagel Gets Preview of New High-Tech Projects

Hagel Gets Preview of New High-Tech Projects

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is given hands-on demonstrations Tuesday of some of the newest research from DARPA _ the military's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency program. (April 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) NBC's "Today" conducted an experiment to see if changing the size of plates and utensils affects the amount individuals eat. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins