Validity of self-reported height and weight estimates in cognitively-intact and impaired elderly individuals

J Nutr Health Aging. 2000;4(4):223-8.


Objective: A high prevalence of undernutrition has been observed in the elderly, particularly in cognitively impaired or demented individuals. Self-reported height and weight were tested as simple and non-invasive methods to efficiently screen individuals at risk.

Design: Cross-sectional study.

Participants: A subset of subjects (n=465) participating in the longitudinal follow-up phase of the Canadian Study of Health and Aging (CSHA) and comprising cognitively intact and impaired individuals as well as demented subjects.

Measurements: Self-reported values of height and weight were compared to direct standard measurements using Pearson's correlation coefficients and linear regressions by cognitive status. Estimation bias was determined using paired Student t-tests. Sensitivity and specificity of body mass index (BMI) derived from self-reported data were calculated.

Results: Self-reported and measured weights were highly correlated (r>.90) in all three categories of cognitive status. A tendency to underestimate their weight was observed in overweight women. Correlations of recalled to measured height were excellent in normal (r=.91) and good in cognitively impaired (r=.86) and demented (r=.85) subjects. A systematic overestimation of recalled height was observed, particularly among individuals of short stature. Self-reported BMI showed excellent sensitivity (>93%) in detecting underweight individuals in all three categories.

Conclusion: Self-reported height and weight data can be obtained in normal and cognitively-impaired elderly persons as well as in mild or moderate cases of dementia and can be used as a valid tool to screen for risk of undernutrition.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Body Height*
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Body Weight*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dementia / psychology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Nutrition Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Self-Assessment
  • Sensitivity and Specificity