Adolescents' experience of comments about their weight -- prevalence, accuracy and effects on weight misperception

Wing-Sze Lo; Sai-Yin Ho; Kwok-Kei Mak; Yuen-Kwan Lai; Tai-Hing Lam
January 2009
BMC Public Health;2009, Vol. 9 Issue 1, p271
Academic Journal
Background: Weight comments are commonly received by adolescents, but the accuracy of the comments and their effects on weight misperception are unclear. We assessed the prevalence and accuracy of weight comments received by Chinese adolescents from different sources and their relation to weight misperception. Methods: In the Hong Kong Student Obesity Surveillance (HKSOS) project 2006-07, 22612 students aged 11-18 (41.5% boys) completed a questionnaire on obesity. Students responded if family members, peers and professionals had seriously commented over the past 30 days that they were "too fat" or "too thin" in two separate questions. The accuracy of the comments was judged against the actual weight status derived from self-reported height and weight. Self-perceived weight status was also reported and any discordance with the actual weight status denoted weight misperception. Logistic regression yielded adjusted odd ratios for weight misperception by the type of weight comments received. Results: One in three students received weight comments, and the mother was the most common source of weight comments. Health professional was the most accurate source of weight comments, yet less than half the comments were correct. Adolescents receiving incorrect comments had increased risk of having weight misperception in all weight status groups. Receiving conflicting comments was positively associated with weight misperception among normal weight adolescents. In contrast, underweight and overweight/obese adolescents receiving correct weight comments were less likely to have weight misperception. Conclusion: Weight comments, mostly incorrect, were commonly received by Chinese adolescents in Hong Kong, and such incorrect comments were associated with weight misperception.


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