Underestimation of weight and its associated factors in overweight and obese university students from 21 low, middle and emerging economy countries
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Awareness of overweight status is an important factor of weight control and may have more impact on one?s decision to lose weight than objective weight status. The purpose of this study was to assess the prevalence of underestimation of overweight/obesity and its associated factors among university students from 21 low, middle and emerging economy countries. In a cross-sectional survey the total sample included 15,068 undergraduate university students (mean age 20.8, SD = 2.8, age range of 16-30 years) from
21 countries. Anthropometric measurements and self-administrated questionnaire were applied to collected data. The prevalence of weight underestimation (being normal or underweight) for overweight or obese university students was 33.3% (41% in men and 25.1%
in women), among overweight students, 39% felt they had normal weight or were under weight, and among obese students 67% did not rate themselves as obese or very overweight. In multivariate logistic regression analysis, being male, poor subjective health status, lack of overweight health risk awareness, lack of importance to lose weight, not trying and not dieting to lose weight, and regularbreakfast was associated with underestimation of weight in overweight and obeseuniversity students.Conclusions: The study found a high prevalence of underestimation of over-weight/obesity among university students. Several factors identified can be utilized inhealth promotion programmes including diet and weight management behaviours tofocus on inaccurate weight perceptions on the design of weight control, in particularfor men.