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Accuracy of Self-Reported Height and Weight in Women: An Integrative Review of the Literature

Authors

  • Janet L Engstrom CNM, PhD, FACNM,

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    • Janet L. Engstrom, CNM, PhD, FACNM, is an Associate Professor and Program Director of the Nurse-Midwifery and Women's Health Nurse Practitioner Programs at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL. Her research focuses on the reliability and validity of physical measurements.

  • Susan A Paterson CNM, MS,

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    • Susan A. Paterson, CNM, MS, is a nurse-midwife in a new nurse-midwifery practice in Cadillac, MI. She is a graduate of the Nurse-Midwifery Program at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

  • Anastasia Doherty CNM, MS,

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    • Anastasia Dohertry, CNM, MS, is a recent graduate of the Nurse-Midwifery Program at the University of Illinois at Chicago and is practicing as a Certified Nurse-Midwife at Swedish Covenant Hospital in Chicago, IL.

  • Mary Trabulsi CNM, MS,

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    • Mary Trabulsi, CNM, MS, is a recent graduate of the Nurse-Midwifery Program at the University of Illinois at Chicago and is practicing as a Certified Nurse-Midwife at South Shore Women's Health in Scituate, MA.

  • Kara L Speer BA

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    • Kara L. Speer, BA, is a student in the Masters of Public Health program in the School of Public Health at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL.


Address correspondence to Janet Engstrom, CNM, PhD, FACNM, University of Illinois at Chicago, Department of Maternal-Child Nursing, 845 South Damen (m/c 802), Chicago, IL 60612.

Abstract

Height and weight are two of the most commonly used anthropometric measurements in clinical practice and research. Self-reported height and weight measurement is a simple, efficient, inexpensive, and non-invasive method of collecting data from large numbers of people. This integrative review of the published research examined the accuracy of self-reported height and weight measurements in women. Twenty-six studies examined the accuracy of self-reported height in 39,244 women. Twenty-one of the studies found that women overestimate height. Thirty-four studies reviewed the accuracy of self-reported weight in 57,172 women, and all 34 studies reported that women underestimated weight. Although mean variations between self-reported and measured values were small, a significant percentage of women in study groups had very large errors. Inaccurate measurements of both height and weight can cause significant inaccuracies in calculation of body mass index, which is used as a guide for identifying persons at risk for disease. These findings indicate that direct measurement of height and weight should be performed whenever possible for optimal measurements in clinical practice and clinically oriented research.

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