Introduction This study aimed to examine the association between overweight, obesity and self-perception of body weight in adults.
Methods A cross-sectional population-based study was carried out in the city of Pelotas, southern Brazil, with a sample of individuals aged 20–59 years. Weight and height of the participants were measured by previously trained evaluators. Overweight and obesity were defined as body mass index ≥25 kg/m2 and ≥30 kg/m2, respectively. Self-perceived body weight status was directly and indirectly assessed. The participants were first asked whether they perceive themselves as too thin, thin, normal, fat or too fat and then the difference between reported ideal and actual body weight measured after the interview was calculated.
Results A total of 1894 adults participated in the study, of which 57.4% were women. The prevalences of overweight and obesity were 58% and 23.8%, respectively. About 40% of the participants reported they perceived their weight as normal. However, when self-perceived body weight was indirectly assessed, 63.3% reported a desire to weigh less. Among the overweight and obese participants, 61% and 86.4% perceived themselves as fat or very fat, respectively, and reported a desire to weigh less.
Conclusion In this sample with high prevalences of overweight and obesity, most participants perceived their excess weight and reported a desire to weigh less. This seems an ideal setting for the implementation of interventions targeting weight loss and promoting healthy habits.
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