A Dangerous Guessing Game

Many women misperceive their actual weight putting them at risk of heart disease, metabolic disorders

(RxWiki News) Nearly 25 percent of overweight and 16 percent of normal weight reproductive-age women misperceive their body weight.

The finding arrives in the December issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology as the first study to look at reproductive-age women's weight-related behaviors associated with self-perception of weight. The results suggest these perceptions affect the women’s weight-related behaviors and make many of them vulnerable to cardiovascular and other obesity-related diseases.


"What we found reflects the 'fattening' of America," said corresponding author Dr. Mahbubur Rahman, assistant professor Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Women's Health. “As obesity numbers climb, many women identify overweight as normal, not based on the scale but on how they view themselves.”


According to BMI (body mass index) standards, more than half of reproductive-aged women in the U.S. are overweight or obese. Minority women are at greater risk with 82 percent of African American women and 75 percent of Mexican-American women weighing in as obese or overweight.


Researchers divided the women into four categories: overweight misperceivers (overweight women who describe themselves as under- or normal weight); overweight accurate perceivers (overweight women who described themselves as overweight); normal weight misperceivers (normal weight women who described themselves as overweight); and normal weight accurate perceivers (normal weight women who described themselves as normal- or under-weight).


Since women who misperceive their weight are less likely to eat healthily or exercise, “weight misperception is a threat to the success of obesity-prevention programs,” said lead author Dr. Abbey Berenson, professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Women's Health.

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November 23, 2010