Publications & Reports

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

Bowring AL, Peeters A, Freak-Poli R, Lim MS, Gouillou M, Hellard M


ABSTRACT: 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 >=25kg/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 <2cm and <2kg 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.


  • Journal: BMC Medical Research Methodology
  • Published: 21/11/2012
  • Volume: 12
  • Issue: 1
  • Pagination: 175