The Weight of Reality: What Does It Mean when Some Young Adults Have Incongruent Perceptions of Their Individual Weight Classifications?

Anna Bellatorre, University of Nebraska at Lincoln
Bridget J. Goosby, University of Nebraska at Lincoln

The obesity epidemic in America is growing. Unlike many health problems, obesity should be easy to self-diagnose. Lack of knowledge or denial, however, could inhibit self-recognition of weight problems. Guided by health congruency and social comparison theories, this study analyzes factors associated with the congruence between perceptions of subjective and objective BMI classifications using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health and multinomial logistic regression analysis. Results show that the presence of diagnosed high blood pressure and increased education increase agreement between subjective and objective BMI classifications. Further, women, African Americans, and African American or Hispanic women are significantly more likely to misclassify their weight than other groups. Finally, recent weight fluctuations and clinically high waist circumference increase disagreement between matching subjective and objective weight classifications even after controlling for current pregnancy. Further study is needed to assess how these factors affect health maintenance over the life course.

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Presented in Session 54: Social Determinants of Adult Obesity in the U.S.