A recent survey of more than 3,500 college applicants found that more than a third couldn’t report their weight accurately, while overweight and obese men were more likely to underestimate their weight than women.
“This misperception is important because the first step in dealing with a weight problem is knowing that you have one,” said Margarita Teran-Garcia, M.D., a professor of food science and human nutrition at the University of Illinois.
The study is part of the Up Amigos project, a collaboration between researchers at the University of Illinois and the Universidad Autónoma de San Luis Potos in Mexico. In physical exams, the height, weight, and body mass index (BMI) of 3,622 18- to 20-year-old applicants to the Mexican university were recorded. The applicants also completed surveys in which they reported their weight.
Among the men, 33.6 percent were overweight or obese, but only 16.9 percent described themselves as being in those categories. For women, the gap between perception and reality was smaller – 27.8 percent of women were actually overweight or obese, but only 21.2 percent believed that they were.