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Keywords:

  • weight overestimation;
  • eating disorders;
  • body image;
  • body mass index;
  • subjective weight

Abstract

Objective:

This paper examines the association between weight overestimation and symptoms of disordered eating behaviors using a nationally representative sample of young women.

Method:

We use data from Wave III of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health to compare self-reported weight (in pounds) to measure weight obtained by interviewers using a scale. Focusing on normal weight women between the ages of 18 and 24 (n = 2,805) we compare the discrepancy in self-reported and measured weight among women with and without any disordered eating behaviors.

Results:

Women who over report their weight by at least five percent are significantly more likely than those who either under report or accurately report their weights to exhibit disordered eating behaviors. These results persist despite controlling for distorted body image.

Conclusion:

Our findings support both motivational and perceptual bias explanations for overestimating weight among those who exhibit disordered eating behaviors. We argue that weight over-estimation, together with other important information regarding women's nutrition, exercise, mental health, and health-related behaviors, should be treated as a potential indicator for the diagnosis of an eating disorder among young normal weight women. © 2007 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 2007