Salud Pública de México

Socioeconomic status and misperception of body mass index among Mexican adults

M Arantxa Colchero, Yanink Caro-Vega, Martha Kaufer-Horwitz


Objective. To estimate the association between perceived body mass index (BMI) and socioeconomic variables in adults in Mexico. Materials and methods. We studied 32 052 adults from the Mexican National Health and Nutrition Sur­vey of 2006. We estimated BMI misperception by comparing the respondent’s weight perception (as categories of BMI) with the corresponding category according to measured weight and height. Misperception was defined as respondent’s perception of a BMI category different from their actual cat­egory. Socioeconomic status was assessed using household assets. Logistic and multinomial regression models by gender and BMI category were estimated. Results. Adult women and men highly underestimate their BMI category. We found that the probability of a correct classification was lower than the probability of getting a correct result by chance alone. Bet­ter educated and more affluent individuals are more likely to have a correct perception of their weight status, particularly among overweight adults. Conclusions. Given that a correct perception of weight has been associated with an increased search of weight control and that our results show that the studied population underestimated their BMI, interventions providing definitions and consequences of overweight and obesity and encouraging the population to monitor their weight could be beneficial.

Palabras clave

weight perception; obesity; body mass index; Mexico

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Salud Pública de México es una publicación periódica electrónica, bimestral, publicada por el Instituto Nacional de Salud Pública (con domicilio en Avenida Universidad núm. 655, col. Santa María Ahuacatitlán, Cuernavaca, Morelos, C.P. 62100, teléfono 329-3000, página web,, con ISSN: 1606-7916 y Reserva de Derechos al Uso Exclusivo con número: 04-2012-071614550600-203, ambos otorgados por el Instituto Nacional del Derecho de Autor. Editor responsable: Carlos Oropeza Abúndez. Responsable de la versión electrónica: Subdirección de Comunicación Científica y Publicaciones, Avenida Universidad núm. 655, planta baja, col. Santa María Ahuacatitlán, Cuernavaca, Morelos, C.P. 62100, teléfono 329 3000. Fecha de última modificación: 7 de junio de 2018. D.R. © por el sitio: Instituto Nacional de Salud Pública.

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