Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston said nearly 25 percent of overweight women and 16 percent of normal weight reproductive-age women misperceive their body weight.
The study, scheduled to be published in the December issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology, found 16 percent of Caucasian women and 25 percent of Hispanic women who were normal weight described themselves as overweight. The women were more likely than others to engage in unhealthy weight-related behaviors such as using diet pills and diuretics, skipping meals or smoking more cigarettes.
The researchers found 30 percent of African-American women, 25 percent of Hispanic women and 15 percent of Caucasian women were overweight misperceivers. The overweight women who saw themselves as normal weight often failed to practice healthy weight loss behaviors such as dieting, the researchers say.
The researchers analyzed variables such as height, weight, weight perceptions and weight behaviors for more than 2,200 women ages 18-25. Overall, 52 percent of the study participants were found to be overweight or obese.
"What we found reflects the 'fattening' of America," study corresponding author Dr. Mahbubur Rahman said in a statement. "As obesity numbers climb, many women identify overweight as normal, not based on the scale but on how they view themselves."