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Misperceptions of Body Mass: Analysis of NSW Health Survey 2003


  • Paula Cronin

    () (CHERE, University of Technology,Sydney)

  • Marion Haas

    () (CHERE, University of Technology,Sydney)

  • Elizabeth Savage

    () (CHERE, University of Technology,Sydney)

  • Minh Vu

    () (CHERE, University of Technology,Sydney)


Overweight and obesity continue to contribute to increased risk of chronic diseases, including higher lifetime health expenditures and impacting on individuals? quality of life. Whilst international studies have compared individuals? perceptions of their body mass with more objective measures such as Body Mass Index (BMI) few Australian studies have examined this relationship in any detail. This study uses unit record data from the 2003 NSW Health Survey to identify factors associated with the accuracy of adults perceived body mass. Descriptive methods and logistical models are used to quantify the effects of a number of demographic, socio?economic, behavioural and health?related variables on the accuracy of self?assessed body mass. The results support earlier findings that there are large gender differences in perception of body mass. Women are most likely to report they are overweight. In contrast there is a pattern of underestimation of weight amongst men, particularly at the higher BMI deciles. Clearly these results have different policy implications. This information may be useful for public health programs to take into account the issue of whether individuals accurately perceive themselves at risk of developing weight?related health conditions.

Suggested Citation

  • Paula Cronin & Marion Haas & Elizabeth Savage & Minh Vu, 2009. "Misperceptions of Body Mass: Analysis of NSW Health Survey 2003," Working Papers 2009/7, CHERE, University of Technology, Sydney.
  • Handle: RePEc:her:chewps:2009/7

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    File Function: First version, October 2009
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    More about this item


    Obesity; BMI; perceived weight;

    JEL classification:

    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General

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