Globally, Fewer Teens Perceive Themselves as Overweight

In HealthDay News
by Healthday

Authors say changes in body weight perception could undermine efforts to tackle obesity

By Lori Solomon HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, July 14, 2023 (HealthDay News) — From 2002 to 2018, there was a global increase in the number of teenagers who underestimated their body weight, according to a study published online July 2 in Child and Adolescent Obesity.

Anouk Francine Jacqueline Geraets, Ph.D., from the University of Luxembourg in Esch-sur-Alzette, and colleagues used data from five cycles (2002, 2006, 2010, 2014, and 2018) of the Health Behavior in School-Aged Children study (746,121 students; mean age, 13.7 years; 41 countries and regions) to examine time trends in body weight perception.

The researchers found that correct weight perception increased over time among girls, but decreased among boys. There was an increase in underestimation of weight status, while overestimation of weight status decreased over time among both genders, with stronger trends for girls. There were country differences in trends for both body weight perception and overweight/obesity that were not explained by changes over time in country-level overweight/obesity prevalence.

“The linear increase over time in correct weight perception and the decrease in overestimation may have a positive effect on unhealthy weight reduction behaviors among adolescents,” the authors write. “However, the increase in underestimation could signal a need for interventions to strengthen correct weight perception among adolescents.”

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