The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
AS and CN contributed to the study design and management. AS analyzed the data and wrote the manuscript. AS and CN contributed to interpretation of the data and intellectual revision of the manuscript. Both authors read and approved the final manuscript.
Adolescence is a time of rapid growth with dramatic changes in physical appearance. The body image established at this time could affect their physical and mental health throughout their entire life. However, adolescents sometimes perceive themselves as underweight or overweight irrespective of actual weight status. The purpose of the present study was to examine the extent of weight misperception for Korean adolescents, to explore socio-demographic factors associated with weight misperception, and to examine gender-specific differences in the relationships between weight misperception and health-related factors.
We selected data on 3321 adolescents aged 12–18 years from the five-year Korea Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (KNHANES) datasets (2007–2011). Self-perceived weight status was compared with measured weight status by cross-tabulation. The generalized logit model was used to explore the socio-demographic factors associated with weight misperception, and separate logistic regression models were fitted to examine gender-specific differences in the relationships between weight misperception and health-related factors.
Overall, 25.8 % of boys (overestimation 17.1 %; underestimation 8.6 %) and 29.3 % of girls (overestimation 24.0 %; underestimation 5.3 %) misclassified their weight status according to the objective standards. Weight overestimation was particularly prominent among underweight girls. Weight misperception was associated with socio-demographic factors such as gender, age, BMI, place of residence, and maternal education level. Weight overestimation and underestimation in boys and weight overestimation in girls were significantly related to inappropriate weight control practice. However, weight underestimation in girls seems to be negatively linked to inappropriate weight control practice.
Based on the results of the present study, comprehensive intervention programs for adolescents and their parents could be devised to raise self-awareness of their weight status, to overcome weight misperception, and to prevent obesity and its related health risks.