Inaccurate self-report of height and its impact on misclassification of body mass index in postmenopausal women

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Abstract

Objective:

Self-reported height is commonly used in population obesity research. Evidence has also shown a positive association between depression and obesity. We examined the extent of height misreporting and its impact on body mass index (BMI) calculations and classification, and explored whether depression is associated with height misreporting.

Methods:

The Buffalo Osteoporosis and Periodontal Disease Follow-up Study enrolled 1,015 postmenopausal women between 2002 and 2006. Participants self-reported their height on a questionnaire before stadiometer measurement at the clinical visit. Depressive symptoms were assessed using the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale. Odds ratios and 95% CI for association between depression and height misreporting were estimated using logistic regression.

Results:

Overall, 446 women (43.9%) misreported height by greater than 1/2 inch, of which 296 (29.2%) underestimated and 150 (14.8%) overestimated their height. Height misreporting influenced BMI calculations by ≥1 unit in 12% of women, and influenced classification into WHO BMI categories in 8% of women. After adjusting for age, race, education, and measured BMI, women with significant depressive symptoms were more likely to misreport their height (odds ratio = 1.65, 95% CI, 1.04-2.61).

Conclusions:

Height misreporting was common in older women and significantly influenced BMI calculations and classification. Obtaining objective data is thus important for studies investigating obesity-disease associations in this population, especially in those with significant depressive symptoms.

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