Accuracy of self-reported height and weight in women: an integrative review of the literature

J Midwifery Womens Health. Sep-Oct 2003;48(5):338-45. doi: 10.1016/s1526-9523(03)00281-2.


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.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anthropometry
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Body Height*
  • Body Image
  • Body Weight*
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Ethnic Groups
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • New Zealand / epidemiology
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Self Disclosure*
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States / epidemiology