Intentional mis-reporting of food consumption and its relationship with body mass index and psychological scores in women

J Hum Nutr Diet. 2004 Jun;17(3):209-18. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-277X.2004.00520.x.


Background: The reasons for mis-reporting food consumption warrant investigation.

Objective: To document intention to mis-report food consumption and its associations with psychological measures in women.

Design: A total of 184 female volunteers aged 18-65 years, comprising 50 seeking help in primary care to lose weight with a body mass index (BMI) >/=30 kg m(-2) (obese-clinical group) and 134 nurses (nonclinical groups) (BMI <25 kg m(-2), n = 52; BMI 25-29.9 kg m(-2), n = 45; BMI >/=30 kg m(-2), n = 37) were studied. A questionnaire was administered containing three psychological tests (self-esteem, psychological well-being and Stunkard's three-factor eating questionnaire) and new items to address food intake mis-reporting.

Results: Overall, 68% of participants declared an inclination to mis-report (64% nonclinical, 78% clinical). Inclination to under-report was 29, 33 and 51% in the three nonclinical groups; and 46% among the obese clinical patients. Among the same groups, inclination to over-report were 39, 29, 11 and 32%. After adjusting for social deprivation and BMI, women inclined to mis-report had higher hunger (P = 0.008) and disinhibition (P = 0.005) scores than those intending to report accurately. These variables were associated with current dieting, frequency of dieting, self-reported bingeing and dissatisfaction with body weight.

Conclusions: These findings indicate that intentional under-reporting and over-reporting of food consumption are common in women of all BMI categories and are associated with eating behaviour. Current dieting, frequency of dieting in the past, self-reported bingeing and dissatisfaction with body weight seem to mediate this relationship.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Body Image
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Diet Surveys
  • Eating / psychology*
  • Energy Intake
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / psychology*
  • Self Concept
  • Self Disclosure*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires