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Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2008 Feb 12;5:9. doi: 10.1186/1479-5868-5-9.

The change in weight perception of weight status among the overweight: comparison of NHANES III (1988-1994) and 1999-2004 NHANES.

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US Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, Division of Nutrition Research Coordination, Bethesda, MD, USA.



This study seeks to determine whether perception of weight status among the overweight has changed with the increasing overweight/obesity prevalence.


The perception of weight status was compared between overweight participants (BMI between 25.0-29.9 kg/m2) from NHANES III (1988-1994) and overweight participants from NHANES 1999-2004. Perception of weight status was assessed by asking participants to classify their weight as about the right weight, underweight or overweight. Comparisons were made across age groups, genders, race/ethnicities and various income levels.


Fewer overweight people during the NHANES 1999-2004 survey perceived themselves as overweight when compared to overweight people during the NHANES III survey. The change in distortion between the survey periods was greatest among persons with lower income, males and African-Americans.


The increase in overweight/obesity between the survey years (NHANES III and NHANES 1999-2004 has been accompanied with fewer overweight people perceiving themselves as overweight.

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