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Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2009 Oct;6(10):2696-711. doi: 10.3390/ijerph6102696. Epub 2009 Oct 20.

Validity of self-reported weight and height of adolescents, its impact on classification into BMI-categories and the association with weighing behaviour.

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Department of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Ghent University, De Pintelaan 185, 2 blok A, B-9000 Ghent, Belgium.


This paper investigated the validity of self-reported height and weight of adolescents for the diagnosis of underweight, overweight and obesity and the influence of weighing behaviour on the accuracy. A total of 982 adolescents reported their height, weight, weighing behaviour and eating patterns in a questionnaire. Afterwards, their height and weight were measured and their Body Mass Index (BMI)-categories were determined using age- and gender-specific BMI cut-off points. Both girls and boys underreported their weight, whilst height was overestimated by girls and underestimated by boys. Cohen's d indicated that these misreportings were in fact trivial. The prevalence of underweight was overestimated when using the self-reported BMI for classification, whilst the prevalence of overweight and obesity was underestimated. Gender and educational level influenced the accuracy of the adolescents' self-reported BMI. Weighing behaviour only positively influenced the accuracy of the self-reported weight and not height or BMI. In summary, adolescents' self-reported weight and height cannot replace measured values to determine their BMI-category, and thus the latter are highly recommended when investigating underweight, overweight and obesity in adolescents.


adolescents; body mass index; height; validity; weighing behaviour; weight

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