Weight misperception among young adults with overweight/obesity associated with disordered eating behaviors Academic Article uri icon


  • OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to examine the cross-sectional association between weight misperception among young adults with overweight/obesity and disordered eating behaviors. METHOD: In a subsample of young adults with overweight or obesity participating in Wave III (2001-2002) of The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (n = 5,184), we examined the cross-sectional association between weight under-perception (i.e., perceiving oneself to be at a healthy body weight or underweight) and disordered eating (fasting/meal skipping for weight control, purging/pills for weight control, overeating/loss of control eating, and use of performance-enhancing products/substances). RESULTS: About 20% of young adult females under-perceived their weight compared to 48% of males. Individuals who misperceived their weight as healthy were significantly less likely to report fasting/meal skipping (Females: OR: 0.25, 95% CI: 0.14-0.43; Males: OR: 0.31, 95% CI: 0.20-0.48) and vomiting or taking diet pills/laxatives/diuretics (Females: OR: 0.10, 95% CI: 0.04-0.25; Males: OR: 0.10, 95% CI: 0.04-0.25) for weight control. Among females, those who misperceived their weight status as healthy were also less likely to report overeating or loss of control eating (OR: 0.41, 95% CI: 0.24-0.71). Greater use of performance-enhancing products/substances was seen among males who under-perceived their weight as healthy (OR: 2.06, 95% CI: 1.57-2.72) and among both females (OR: 2.29, 95% CI: 1.40-20.0) and males (OR: 2.27, 95% CI: 1.13-4.55) who perceived themselves to be underweight. DISCUSSION: Weight under-perception among young adults with overweight/obesity may convey some benefit related to disordered eating behaviors, but could be a risk factor for the use of performance-enhancing products/substances. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. (Int J Eat Disord ; 49:937-946).

altmetric score

  • 13.2

author list (cited authors)

  • Sonneville, K. R., Thurston, I. B., Milliren, C. E., Gooding, H. C., & Richmond, T. K.

citation count

  • 40

publication date

  • October 2016