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Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 1999 Jul;23(7):738-45.

Lay definitions of ideal weight and overweight.

Author information

  • 1School of Health Sciences, Deakin University, Burwood, Australia. dcraw@deakin.edu.au

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To describe lay definitions of ideal weight and overweight, to determine whether they correspond with current health definitions, and to examine the relationship between lay definitions and weight-control behaviour.

DESIGN:

Cross-sectional survey of a representative sample of adults from Victoria, Australia.

SUBJECTS:

1342 men and women, aged 18 y and older from across the weight spectrum.

MEASURES:

Questionnaire-based measures of current height and weight to determine body mass index (BMI); weight that is considered to be ideal; weight that is considered to be overweight; current weight-control behaviour.

RESULTS:

The BMI at which women considered themselves to be at their ideal weight was significantly lower than that for men. For both men and women, the BMI defined as ideal increased with age and with current weight. The average BMI at which women considered themselves to be overweight was significantly lower than that for men, and was well within the acceptable BMI range. Just over two-thirds of men, defined overweight at a level higher than the current cutoff of 25 kg/m2. For both men and women, the BMI defined as overweight increased with age and with current weight.

CONCLUSION:

Lay definitions of ideal weight and overweight deviate substantially from health definitions. Public health initiatives should stress that many women are already a healthy weight, and encourage these women to focus their efforts on weight maintenance rather than weight loss. Since so few men have weight goals that are consistent with current health recommendations, it will be important to raise their awareness of what constitutes a healthy weight.

PMID:
10454108
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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