Differences in measured and self-reported height and weight in Dutch adolescents

Ann Nutr Metab. 2006;50(4):339-46. doi: 10.1159/000094297. Epub 2006 Jun 28.


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.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Body Height / physiology*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight / physiology*
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Self Disclosure*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Surveys and Questionnaires