Poster Theater Flash Session
Objectives : As mistaken body weight perceptions have been linked to less healthy diet and activity behaviors, accurate weight perception may help individuals set appropriate, health-related weight goals. However, some data link poor weight perception with negative mental health. The purpose of this study is to examine the prevalence of body weight misperception and self-reported life satisfaction among undergraduate college students.
Methods : Data were collected from undergraduate students (18-24 years) participating in an on-going cross-sectional health survey at a midsize, northeastern university between 2010-18 (n=3921). Students self-reported their described weight status and life satisfaction via online questionnaire; body composition was assessed via bioelectrical impedance in a fasted state. Proportional differences between men and women were evaluated using chi-square analyses.
Results : More than a third (35.9%) of students misperceived their weight status. Among men (n=1190), 31.7% misperceived their weight status. Among women (n = 2731), 37.6% misperceived their weight status. Compared with men, women had a higher prevalence of overestimating their weight status (31.7 vs. 11.1%, P< 0.01). Compared with women, men had a higher prevalence of underestimating weight status (20.7 vs. 5.9%, P< 0.01). No significant differences in life satisfaction were observed among individuals who correctly perceive their weight status versus those who misperceived.
Conclusions : Our results show a high prevalence of undergraduate college students who misperceive their weight status; however, misperception was not associated with differences in life satisfaction. As misperception of weight status differed between genders, targeted interventions related to the promotion of healthy weight may consider sex-specific messaging in college students.
Funding Sources :
New Hampshire Agriculture Experiment Station and USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Hatch Project 1010738