Perceived weight status in normal weight and overweight women


The current study sought to assess women's knowledge of what objectively constitutes underweight, normal weight, or overweight for a given height, and how this knowledge is affected by a woman's own weight status. A total of 31 normal weight women and 20 overweight women were asked to provide predictions of weight ranges for a female 4 feet 11 in. to 6 feet 2 in. in height for the following categories: extremely underweight, underweight, normal weight, overweight, obese, and extremely obese. Each participant completed the questionnaire for all heights, although the critical values for each participant were the weight ranges given for their own height category. These predictions were then compared to the participants' own weight status using Body Mass Index (BMI). Results suggest that normal weight women tend to believe that women must be smaller in order to be classified as normal weight, overweight, or obese when compared to the objective BMI categories used by physicians and researchers. In other words, the normal weight participants underestimated the BMI ranges for the normal weight, overweight, and obese categories. Overall, the overweight participants were fairly accurate in their BMI predictions for the different weight categories. One implication of these findings is that normal weight women may have a bias toward overestimating their weight to be within an overweight range. The need for health care marketing efforts to increase awareness of objective weight categories is addressed. © 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

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Eating Behaviors