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BMJ. 2008 Jul 10;337:a494. doi: 10.1136/bmj.a494.

Changing perceptions of weight in Great Britain: comparison of two population surveys.

Author information

  • 1Cancer Research UK Health Behaviour Research Centre, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, London WC1E 6BT.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

To examine changes in public perceptions of overweight in Great Britain over an eight year period.

DESIGN:

Comparison of data on self perceived weight from population surveys in 1999 and 2007.

SETTING:

Household surveys of two representative samples in Great Britain.

PARTICIPANTS:

853 men and 944 women in 1999, and 847 men and 989 women in 2007.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

Participants were asked to report their weight and height and classify their body size on a scale from "very underweight" to "obese."

RESULTS:

Self reported weights increased dramatically over time, but the weight at which people perceived themselves to be overweight also rose significantly. In 1999, 81% of overweight participants correctly identified themselves as overweight compared with 75% in 2007, demonstrating a decrease in sensitivity in the self diagnosis of overweight.

CONCLUSIONS:

Despite media and health campaigns aiming to raise awareness of healthy weight, increasing numbers of overweight people fail to recognise that their weight is a cause for concern. This makes it less likely that they will see calls for weight control as personally relevant.

Comment in

PMID:
18617488
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2500200
Free PMC Article

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