Washington: Misconception about one`s weight is an important barrier to weight loss in obese people, a new study has revealed.
When University of Illinois researchers surveyed over 3,500 college applicants, more than a third couldn``t report their weight accurately, and overweight and obese men were more likely to underestimate their weight than women.
“This misperception is important because the first step in dealing with a weight problem is knowing that you have one,” Margarita Teran-Garcia, said.
The study is part of the Up Amigos project, which is a collaboration between scientists at the U of I and the Universidad Autonoma de San Luis Potos in Mexico.
In physical exams, the height, weight, and body mass index (BMI) of 3,622 18- to 20-year-old applicants to the Mexican university were recorded, the aspiring students also completed surveys in which they reported their weight status.
Among the college-aged men, 33.6 percent were overweight or obese, but only 16.9 percent described themselves as being in those categories.
For women, the gap between perception and reality was smaller – 27.8 percent of women were actually overweight or obese, but only 21.2 percent believed that they were.
“Heavier applicants were less likely to report their weight correctly,” Flavia Cristina Drumond Andrade, a researcher involved in the study, said.
According to Teran-Garcia, identifying weight problems at the beginning of adult life has important health consequences.
“If these young people follow the wrong trajectory, continuing to accumulate weight, they are likely to develop heart disease and diabetes. It``s much better if they deal straightforwardly with the fact that they``re gaining weight while they`re young,” Teran-Garcia added.
The study has been published in Body Image.