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Misreporting and Misclassification: Implications for Socioeconomic Disparities in Body-mass Index and Obesity

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  • Ljungvall, Åsa

    () (Department of Economics, Lund University)

  • Gerdtham, Ulf-G

    () (Department of Economics, Lund University)

  • Lindblad, Ulf

    () (Dept of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of Gothenburg)

Abstract

Body-mass index (BMI), sometimes calculated from objectively measured and sometimes from self-reported weight and height, has become the standard proxy for obesity in social science research. This study deals with the potential problems related to, first, relying on self-reported weight and height to calculate BMI (misreporting), and, second, the concern that BMI is a deficient measure of body fat and elevated health risks (misclassification). Using a regional Swedish sample, we analyze whether socioeconomic disparities in BMI are biased because of misreporting, and whether socioeconomic disparities in the risk of obesity are sensitive to whether BMI or waist circumference is used to define obesity. Education and two income measures are used as socioeconomic indicators. Among women, different educational groups misreport differently, leading to underestimation of the education disparity when using self-reported information. Among men, misreporting is un-related to socioeconomic status, but misclassification is related to education. As a consequence, when estimating the risk of obesity defined using waist circumference, an educational gradient, which is not present when classifying men using BMI, arises. Taken together, female disparities appear more sensitive to whether weight and height are self-reported, whereas male disparities are more sensitive to definition of obesity.

Suggested Citation

  • Ljungvall, Åsa & Gerdtham, Ulf-G & Lindblad, Ulf, 2012. "Misreporting and Misclassification: Implications for Socioeconomic Disparities in Body-mass Index and Obesity," Working Papers 2012:19, Lund University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:lunewp:2012_019
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Margareta Dackehag & Ulf-G. Gerdtham & Martin Nordin, 2015. "Productivity or discrimination? An economic analysis of excess-weight penalty in the Swedish labor market," The European Journal of Health Economics, Springer;Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gesundheitsökonomie (DGGÖ), vol. 16(6), pages 589-601, July.
    2. Davillas, A.; Jones, A.M.; Benzeval, M.;, 2017. "The income-health gradient: Evidence from self-reported health and biomarkers using longitudinal data on income," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 17/04, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
    3. Dackehag, Margareta & Ellegård, Lina Maria & Gerdtham, Ulf-G & Nilsson, Therese, 2018. "Social Assistance and Mental Health: Evidence from Longitudinal Data on Pharmaceutical Consumption," Working Papers 2018:2, Lund University, Department of Economics.
    4. Persson, Sofie & Gerdtham, Ulf-G. & Steen Carlsson, Katarina, 2016. "Labor market consequences of childhood onset type 1 diabetes," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 23(C), pages 180-192.
    5. repec:eee:ehbiol:v:26:y:2017:i:c:p:112-125 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Davillas, Apostolos & Benzeval, Michaela, 2016. "Alternative measures to BMI: Exploring income-related inequalities in adiposity in Great Britain," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 166(C), pages 223-232.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    body-mass index; waist circumference; obesity; socioeconomic disparity; misreporting; misclassification;

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I14 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Inequality

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