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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Association between actual weight status, perceived weight and depressive, anxious symptoms in Chinese adolescents: a cross-sectional study

Jie Tang, Yizhen Yu*, Yukai Du, Ying Ma, Huiping Zhu and Zhuoya Liu

Author Affiliations

Department of Child, Adolescence & Woman Health Care, School of Public Health, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science & Technology, 13rd Hongkong Road, Wuhan, PR China

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BMC Public Health 2010, 10:594  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-594

Published: 8 October 2010



The purpose of this study was to describe actual measured weight and perceived weight and to explore associations with depressive, anxiety symptoms in school adolescents in China.


A sample of 1144 Chinese adolescents was randomly selected from four schools in Wuhan, China, including 665 boys and 479 girls with ages ranging between 10 and 17 years. Actual measured weight and height and perceived weight status were compared to anxiety and depressive symptoms measured using the revised Self-Rating Anxiety Scale and Children's Depression Inventory. A general linear model was used to compare differences in psychological symptoms among the teenagers with different measured and perceived weights.


When compared with standardized weight tables (WHO age- and gender-specific body mass index (BMI) cutoffs (2007 reference)), girls were more likely to misperceive themselves as overweight, whereas more boys misclassified their weight status as underweight. The adolescents who perceived themselves as overweight were more likely to experience depressive and anxiety symptoms (except girls) than those who perceived themselves as normal and/or underweight. However, no significant association was found between depressive and anxiety symptoms actual measured weight status.


Perceived weight status, but not the actual weight status, was associated with psychological symptoms.