SALT LAKE CITY, Jan. 31 (UPI) — When asked in surveys to self-report height and weight, U.S. men and women lie — they underestimate weight and overestimate height, researchers found.
Lead author Ming Wen, an associate professor at the University of Utah and colleagues Lori Kowaleski-Jones, said many surveys and studies about body weight rely on participants to report their height and weight because it is less expensive and easier than measuring.
Wen and colleagues used data from the 2007-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which used both self-reported and measured height, weight and body mass index grouped by gender and ethnicity.
The study, published in the journal Ethnicity & Disease, found that in all ethnic groups, both men and women overestimate their height — but women also underreport their body mass index more than men do.
In addition, white women are more likely to do so compared to black and Hispanic women. The researchers speculated this was because white women have a stronger social “desire for a lean body” and were more acutely aware of their weight problems.
Those who were overweight, in the oldest age group and who had a college education were also more likely to under-report their BMI, the study said.
The findings highlight care that should be taken when making comparisons of BMI across different U.S. socio-demographic groups, the researchers said.