Background: This study compares the bias in self-reported height, weight and body mass index (BMI) in the 2008 and 2005 Canadian Community Health Surveys and the 2007 to 2009 Canadian Health Measures Survey. The feasibility of using correction equations to adjust self-reported 2008 Canadian Community Health Survey values to more closely approximate measured values is assessed.
Data and methods: Data are from the 2008 and 2005 Canadian Community Health Surveys and the 2007 to 2009 Canadian Health Measures Survey. In these surveys, respondents reported their height and weight, and were subsequently measured. Regression equations based on the 2007 to 2009 Canadian Health Measures Survey and the 2005 Canadian Community Health Survey were applied to self-reported 2008 Canadian Community Health Survey data. These equations predicted measured BMI based on self-reported BMI.
Results: The bias in reporting height was similar across all three surveys, but the bias in reporting weight was larger in the two Canadian Community Health Surveys, and as a result, discrepancies in estimates of obesity between self-reported and measured values were greater. Application of correction equations based on 2005 Canadian Community Health Survey data to self-reported values in the 2008 Canadian Community Health Survey produced more accurate estimates of obesity than did equations based on Canadian Health Measures Survey data.
Interpretation: Survey context may influence the magnitude of the bias in self-reported weight. Respondents who are aware that they will be weighed may report their weight more accurately. Additional data points are required to determine whether the bias in self-reported measures in the Canadian Community Health Survey is changing.