Background: Individuals' self-perceptions of weight often differ from objective measurements of body fat. This study aimed to 1) measure agreement between self-perceptions of weight and objective measurement of body fat by bioelectric impedance analysis (BIA) among Peruvian adults; and 2) quantify the association between body fat and a) baseline self-perceptions of weight and b) whether a participant underestimated their weight status. Methods: Longitudinal data from the CRONICAS Cohort Study of 3181 Peruvian adults aged 35-years and older were used. BIA measurements of body fat were categorized across four nominal descriptions: low weight, normal, overweight, and obese. Kappa statistics were estimated to compare BIA measurements with baseline self-perceptions of weight. To quantify the association between body fat over time with both baseline self-perceptions of weight and underestimation of weight status, random effects models, controlling for socioeconomic and demographic covariates, were employed. Results: Of the 3181 participants, 1111 (34.9%) were overweight and 649 (20.4%) were obese at baseline. Agreement between self-perceived and BIA weight status was found among 43.1% of participants, while 49.9% underestimated and 6.9% overestimated their weight status. Weighted kappa statistics ranged from 0.20 to 0.31 across settings, suggesting poor agreement. Compared to perceiving oneself as normal, perceiving oneself as underweight, overweight, or obese was associated with - 4.1 (p < 0.001), + 5.2 (p < 0.001), and + 8.1 (p < 0.001) body fat percentage points, respectively. Underestimating one's weight status was associated with having 2.4 (p < 0.001) body fat percentage points more than those not underestimating only after adjusting for demographic and socioeconomic covariates. Conclusions: Half of study participants were overweight or obese. There was poor agreement between self-perceptions of weight with BIA measurements of body fat, indicating that individuals often believe they weigh less than they actually do. Underestimating one's weight status was associated with having more body fat percentage points, but was only statistically significant after adjusting for demographic and socioeconomic characteristics. Further research should be conducted to investigate how self-perceptions of weight can support clinical and public health interventions to curb the obesity epidemic.
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© 2019 The Author(s).