How accurate is web-based self-reported height and weight in young Australian adults? — ASN Events

How accurate is web-based self-reported height and weight in young Australian adults? (#165)

Kirrilly Pursey 1 , Tracy Burrows 1 , Clare Collins 1 , Peter Stanwell 1
  1. University of Newcastle, Callaghan, NSW, Australia

Web-based approaches are a commonly used medium to deliver weight management and health behaviour programs and for monitoring weight change. However, few studies have validated online self-reported height and weight data and no studies to date have attempted to validate this self-report data within an Australian population.

This study aimed to validate height and weight data self-reported via an online survey compared to objectively measured data in young Australian adults.

A total of 117 predominantly female (79.5%) participants with a mean age of 24.4± 3.9 years (range 18-35years) from a range of weight categories mean 24.2± 5.6kg/m2 (range 16.3-53kg/m2) self-reported their current height and weight within an online cross-sectional survey. Within one month of completing the survey, the height, weight and body composition of weight-stable volunteers was measured by trained assessors. Paired t-tests were used to determine differences between the two measures.

Self-reported height (169.4±8.9cm) was found to be significantly higher than measured height (168.0±8.4cm, mean difference=1.36±1.93cm, p<0.001). Self-reported weight (68.0±17.4kg) was significantly lower than measured weight (68.5±17.6kg, mean difference=-0.55±2.03kg, p=0.004). Additionally, BMI calculated from self-reported height and weight was significantly lower than measured BMI (-0.56±0.08kg/m2, p<0.0001). When grouped by BMI category, self-reported and measured weight did not differ significantly in healthy weight participants (difference=-0.31kg, p=0.07) but remained significantly underreported in overweight/obese (difference=-1.36kg, p=0.02).

Self-reported height was significantly overestimated and self-reported weight was significantly underestimated by the study participants. When controlling for weight category, underreporting of weight was driven by overweight/obese participants. Despite these measures being statistically significant, the magnitude of differences is small. Our findings suggest that online self-reported height and weight can be a valid method of collecting anthropometric data. Future studies with larger sample sizes are required to support the current findings.