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J Epidemiol Community Health. 1986 December; 40(4): 319–323.
PMCID: PMC1052553

Distribution of body weight and height: comparison of estimates based on self-reported and observed measures.


The distribution of weight in the adult population aged 20-69 years was examined by comparison of estimates obtained from the 1985 Health Promotion Survey and the 1981 Canada Fitness Survey. The Health Promotion Survey obtained information on self-reported weight and height, and the Canada Fitness Survey utilised measured weight and height. The classification of respondents into weight categories followed the recommendations of the 1973 Fogarty Conference on Obesity. Values of the Quetelet index defined as W/H2, where W = kilograms and H = metres, were used to define four weight categories: underweight, acceptable weight, overweight, and obese. The comparisons of prevalence estimates of the various weight categories indicate that self-reported weight and height leads to a systematic weight misclassification bias. The implications of this bias for epidemiological studies are discussed and suggestions are offered to handle the bias.

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Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Burton BT, Foster WR, Hirsch J, Van Itallie TB. Health implications of obesity: an NIH Consensus Development Conference. Int J Obes. 1985;9(3):155–170. [PubMed]
  • Palta M, Prineas RJ, Berman R, Hannan P. Comparison of self-reported and measured height and weight. Am J Epidemiol. 1982 Feb;115(2):223–230. [PubMed]
  • Stewart AL. The reliability and validity of self-reported weight and height. J Chronic Dis. 1982;35(4):295–309. [PubMed]
  • Stunkard AJ, Albaum JM. The accuracy of self-reported weights. Am J Clin Nutr. 1981 Aug;34(8):1593–1599. [PubMed]
  • Stark O, Atkins E, Wolff OH, Douglas JW. Longitudinal study of obesity in the National Survey of Health and Development. Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1981 Jul 4;283(6283):13–17. [PMC free article] [PubMed]

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