Background/aims: Monitoring overweight prevalence and its trends in Dutch youth is frequently based on self-reported data. The validity of self-reported data especially in young adolescents is not sufficiently known. The purpose of this study is to study the validity of self-reported height and weight in 12- to 13-year-olds, to identify sociodemographic correlates and to explore whether correction factors can be developed to estimate the prevalence of overweight in youth.
Methods: 5,525 12- to 13-year-old pupils in the Rotterdam area filled in a confidential questionnaire on health topics, including their height and weight. In a sub-sample of 499 pupils both self-reported and measured height and weight were available.
Results: Self-reported data led to a considerable underestimation of Body Mass Index and consequently the prevalence of overweight. Underestimation was higher in pupils who regarded themselves as more fat, were of non-Dutch origin and in lower education levels.
Conclusion: Self-reported height and weight appeared to be inappropriate to estimate the overweight prevalence in 12- to 13-year-olds, unless the figures were adjusted. Using adjusted self-reported BMI on an individual level is questionable. Actual measurements of height and weight are necessary to draw up valid correction formulas in new samples.
Copyright 2006 S. Karger AG, Basel.