Does BMI generated by self-reported height and weight measure up in older adults from middle-income countries? Results from the study on global AGEing and adult health (SAGE)

Theresa E. Gildner, Tyler M. Barrett, Melissa A. Liebert, Paul Kowal, J. Josh Snodgrass

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Self-reported (SR) body mass index (BMI) values are often used to determine obesity prevalence. However, individuals frequently overestimate their height and underestimate their weight, resulting in artificially lower obesity prevalence rates. These patterns are especially apparent among older adults and overweight individuals. The present cross-sectional study uses nationally representative datasets from five countries to assess the accuracy of SR BMI values in diverse settings. Methods: Samples of older adults (≥50 years old) and comparative samples of younger adults (18-49 years old) were drawn from five middle-income countries (China, India, Mexico, Russian Federation, and South Africa) in the World Health Organization's Study on global AGEing and adult health (SAGE). Participant-reported and researcher-obtained height and weight measures were used to calculate SR and measured BMI, respectively. Paired t-tests assessed differences between SR and measured BMI values by country. Linear regressions examined the contribution of measured weight and age to differences between SR and measured BMI. Results: Significant differences between SR and measured BMI values were observed (p < 0.05), but the direction of these discrepancies varied by country, age, and sex. Measured weight significantly contributed to differences between SR and measured BMI in all countries (p < 0.01). Age did not contribute significantly to variation in BMI discrepancy, except in China (p < 0.001). Conclusions: These results suggest that SR BMI may not accurately reflect measured BMI in middle-income countries, but the direction of this discrepancy varies by country. This has considerable implications for obesity-related disease estimates reliant on SR data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number44
JournalBMC Obesity
Volume2
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Measured BMI
  • Obesity
  • Older adults
  • SAGE
  • Self-report BMI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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