Primary investigator Dr. Nicholas M. Edwards of the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center said the study, performed at the University of Minnesota, used data in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's national Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System to compare each adolescent's body mass index to their own description of their weight.
The data indicate males are twice as likely as their female classmates to misperceive their weight, and African-American and Hispanic youth are significantly more likely to misperceive their weight than their Caucasian peers.
"Although families and clinicians need to be careful and non-judgmental when discussing the health dangers of being overweight, our study shows that those who understood that they were overweight were not more likely to engage in risky weight-related behaviors, such as vomiting or taking medications," Edwards said in a statement. "In fact, those who understood they were overweight were more likely to report doing the right things for weight control, such as exercising and eating less."
The study was published online in Pediatrics.