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J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2010 Oct;65(10):1123-9. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glq096. Epub 2010 Jun 7.

Accuracy of self-reported height and weight in a community-based sample of older African Americans and whites.

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  • 1Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina 27710, USA.



To ascertain accuracy of self-reported height, weight (and hence body mass index) in African American and white women and men older than 70 years of age.


The sample consisted of cognitively intact participants at the third in-person wave (1992-1993) of the Duke Established Populations for Epidemiologic Studies of the Elderly (age 71 and older, N = 1761; residents of five adjacent counties, one urban, four rural). During in-person, in-home interviews using trained interviewers, height and weight were self-reported (and measured later in the same visit using a standardized protocol), and information were obtained on race, sex, and age.


Accuracy of self-reported height and weight was high (intraclass correlation coefficient 0.85 and 0.97, respectively) but differed as a function of race and age. On average, all groups overestimated their height; whereas (non-Hispanic) white men and women underestimated their weight, African Americans overestimated their weight. Overestimation of height and weight was more marked in persons 85 years and older. Specificity for overweight (body mass index [kg/m(2)] ≥ 25) and obesity (body mass index ≥ 30) ranged from 0.90 to 0.99 for African Americans and whites, but sensitivity was better for African Americans (overweight: 0.81, obesity: 0.89), than for whites (0.66 and 0.57, respectively).


Height and weight self-reported by African Americans and whites over the age of 70 can be used in epidemiological studies, with greater caution needed for self-reports of whites, and of persons 85 years of age or older.

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