Disclosure: Anna K. Dahl and Chandra A. Reynolds report no disclosure.
Accuracy of recalled body weight—a study with 20-years of follow-up
Article first published online: 26 JUL 2013
Copyright © 2013 The Obesity Society
Volume 21, Issue 6, pages 1293–1298, June 2013
How to Cite
Dahl, A. K. and Reynolds, C. A. (2013), Accuracy of recalled body weight—a study with 20-years of follow-up. Obesity, 21: 1293–1298. doi: 10.1002/oby.20299
Funding agencies: This study was supported by National Institute of Aging (AG04563, AG10175, AG08724), The MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Successful Aging, the Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research (FAS) (97:0147:1B, 2009-0795, postdoctoral grant 2010-0704, FLARE postdoctoral grant 2010-1852), and Swedish Research Council (825-2007-7460, 825-2009-6141).
- Issue published online: 26 JUL 2013
- Article first published online: 26 JUL 2013
- Accepted manuscript online: 2 JAN 2013 07:16PM EST
- Manuscript Revised: NOV 2012
- Manuscript Accepted: NOV 2012
- Manuscript Received: JUN 2012
- National Institute of Aging. Grant Numbers: AG04563, AG10175, AG08724
- The MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Successful Aging, the Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research (FAS). Grant Numbers: 97:0147:1B, 2009-0795, postdoc grant 2010-0704, FLARE postdoc grant 2010-1852
- Swedish Research Council. Grant Numbers: 825-2007-7460, 825-2009-6141
Weight changes may be an important indicator of an ongoing pathological process. Retrospective self-report might be the only possibility to capture prior weight. The objective of the study was to evaluate the accuracy of retrospective recall of body weight in old age and factors that might predict accuracy.
Design and Methods
In 2007, 646 participants (mean age, 71.6 years) of the Swedish Adoption/Twin Study of Aging (SATSA) answered questions about their present weight and how much they weighed 20-years ago. Of these, 436 had self-reported their weight twenty years earlier and among these 134 had also had their weight assessed at this time point.
Twenty year retrospectively recalled weight underestimated the prior assessed weight by −1.89 ± 5.9 kg and underestimated prior self-reported weight by −0.55 ± 5.2 kg. Moreover, 82.4% of the sample were accurate within 10%, and 45.8% were accurate within 5% of their prior assessed weights; similarly, 84.2% and 58.0% were accurate within 10% and 5% respectively, for prior self-reported weight. Current higher body mass index and preferences of reporting weights ending with zero or five was associated with an underestimation of prior weight, while greater weight change over 20 years, and low Mini-Mental State Scores (MMSE) (<25) led to an overestimation of prior weight.
Recalled weight comes close to the assessed population mean, but at the individual level there is a large variation. The accuracy is affected by current BMI, changes in weight, end-digit preferences, and current cognitive ability. Recalled weight should be used with caution.