Self-reported vs. Measured height, weight, and BMI in young adults

Melissa D. Olfert, Makenzie L. Barr, Camille M. Charlier, Oluremi A. Famodu, Wenjun Zhou, Anne E. Mathews, Carol Byrd-Bredbenner, Sarah E. Colby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

105 Scopus citations


Self-reported height and weight, if accurate, provide a simple and economical method to track changes in body weight over time. Literature suggests adults tend to under-report their own weight and that the gap between self-reported weight and actual weight increases with obesity. This study investigates the extent of discrepancy in self-reported height, weight, and subsequent Body Mass Index (BMI) versus actual measurements in young adults. Physically measured and self-reported height and weight were taken from 1562 students. Male students marginally overestimated height, while females were closer to target. Males, on average, closely self-reported weight. Self-reported anthropometrics remained statistically correlated to actual measures in both sexes. Categorical variables of calculated BMI from both self-reported and actual height and weight resulted in significant agreement for both sexes. Researcher measured BMI (via anthropometric height and weight) and sex were both found to have association with self-reported weight while only sex was related to height difference. Regression examining weight difference and BMI was significant, specifically with a negative slope indicating increased BMI led to increased underestimation of weight in both sexes. This study suggests self-reported anthropometric measurements in young adults can be used to calculate BMI for weight classification purposes. Further investigation is needed to better assess self-reported vs measured height and weight discrepancies across populations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2216
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 11 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Anthropometrics
  • BMI
  • Height
  • Self-report
  • Weight
  • Young adults

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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