Accuracy of self-reported weight and height: Relationship with eating psychopathology among young women

Authors

  • Caroline Meyer PhD,

    Corresponding author
    1. Loughborough University Centre for Research into Eating Disorders, Department of Human Sciences, Loughborough University, Leicestershire, England
    • Department of Human Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, Leicestershire LE11 3TU, England
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  • Lauren McPartlan BSc,

    1. Loughborough University Centre for Research into Eating Disorders, Department of Human Sciences, Loughborough University, Leicestershire, England
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  • Jennie Sines BSc,

    1. Loughborough University Centre for Research into Eating Disorders, Department of Human Sciences, Loughborough University, Leicestershire, England
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  • Glenn Waller DPhil

    1. Section of Eating Disorders, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, University of London, London, England
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Abstract

Objective:

Self-reported height and weight data are commonly reported within eating disorders research. The aims of this study are to demonstrate the accuracy of self-reported height and weight and to determine whether that accuracy is associated with levels of eating psychopathology among a group of young nonclinical women.

Method:

One hundred and four women were asked to report their own height and weight. They then completed the Eating Disorders Examination-Questionnaire. Finally, they were weighed and their height was measured in a standardized manner. Accuracy scores for height and weight were calculated by subtracting their actual weight and height from their self-reports.

Results:

Overall, the women overestimated their heights and underestimated their weights, leading to significant errors in body mass index where self-report is used. Those women with high eating concerns were likely to overestimate their weight, whereas those with high weight concerns were more likely to underestimate it.

Discussion:

These data show that self-reports of height and weight are inaccurate in a way that skews any research that depends on them. The errors are influenced by eating psychopathology. These findings highlight the importance of obtaining objective height and weight data, particularly when comparing those data with those of patients with eating disorders. © 2008 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 2009

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