219185 Does accuracy of perceived weight status impact weight loss behaviors among ethnically diverse urban adolescents: Implications for school health screening programs

Tuesday, November 9, 2010 : 9:15 AM - 9:30 AM

Clare Lenhart, MPH, CHES , Department of Public Health, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA
Brian P. Daly, PhD , Department of Public Health, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA
Dawn Eichen, MA , Department of Psychology, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA
Cindy Buchanan, PhD , Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA
Background: Addressing obesity in adolescence is a complex challenge for schools. While school districts routinely collect objective measures of height and weight, few examine student's subjective assessment of their weight status and the resulting implications for weight loss behaviors.

Purpose: This study evaluated differences in self-reported weight loss efforts among ethnically diverse obese adolescents who accurately and inaccurately perceive their weight status.

Significance: Obesity is considered an epidemic among adolescents.

Methodology: 2009 Philadelphia Youth Risk Behavior Survey data were analyzed. Seventeen percent of the sample (n= 6893) were obese based on BMI percentile calculation. Analysis included chi square tests and odds ratio calculations.

Findings/Results: Significant differences exist between those identified as obese by BMI calculation (17.1%, n=6,893), and those who perceive themselves as obese (5.3%, n=2,228). Among obese adolescents, 78.3% (n=5,397) incorrectly classified themselves as not obese. Adolescents accurately perceiving their obesity are 1.388 times more likely (CI:1.332-1.447) to engage in weight loss efforts as compared to inaccurate perceptors. Significant differences exist when examined by self-reported ethnicity (African-American, Hispanic, Caucasian).

Conclusions/Recommendations: Many students are not able to accurately assess their weight status, with differences occurring among ethnicities. Obese students who do not correctly perceive their weight status are less likely than those who accurately assess weight status to engage in weight loss efforts. Student's subjective assessment of body weight should be considered in school-based student health screenings because student self-perception demonstrates significant impact on health behaviors in this study of obese, ethnically diverse, adolescents from an urban environment.

Learning Areas:
Chronic disease management and prevention
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1) Identify the association between accurate weight perception and engagement in weight loss efforts among obese adoelscents. 2) Evaluate differences in weight status perception among different ethnicities.

Keywords: Obesity, Screening

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I was the lead researcher on this study, responsible for data analysis and review.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.