Open Access Research article

Association of weight misperception with weight loss in a diabetes prevention program

Andrea L Hernan1*, Vincent L Versace1, Tiina Laatikainen1234, Erkki Vartiainen14, Edward D Janus15 and James A Dunbar1

Author Affiliations

1 Greater Green Triangle University Department of Rural Health, Flinders University and Deakin University, PO Box 423, Warrnambool, VIC 3280, Australia

2 Institute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition, University of Eastern Finland, PO Box 1627, Kuopio 70211, Finland

3 Hospital District of North Karelia, Tikkamäentie 16, Joensuu 80210, Finland

4 National Institute for Health and Welfare, Mannerheimintie 166, Helsinki 00300, Finland

5 Department of Medicine, North West Academic Centre, The University of Melbourne, Western Hospital, Footscray, VIC 3011, Australia

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BMC Public Health 2014, 14:93  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-93

Published: 30 January 2014



Weight misperception may have an impact on perceived risk and susceptibility for chronic diseases. Little has been reported on the long term effects of this misperception in chronic disease interventions, particularly in field of diabetes prevention. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between weight misperception and weight loss during a diabetes prevention project conducted in south-east Australia with individuals at moderate to high risk of developing diabetes.


A total of n=251 at risk individuals provided self-reported weight during recruitment from 2004-2006. Objectively measured weight was assessed at baseline (0-21 days after recruitment), and subsequently at three months and 12 months after the intervention. Differences between self-reported and actual weight status are presented as percentages. Linear regression was used to investigate the relationship between weight misperception and weight loss, adjusting for baseline weight and BMI.


Those who had high levels of under-reporting at baseline had greater weight loss at three and 12 months compared with those who under-reported to some degree, and those over-reporting their weight. A significant association was found between weight misperception and weight loss at the three and the 12 month time points. Baseline weight was not associated with weight loss.


Weight misperception should be acknowledged as a factor to be addressed when screening and identifying individuals at risk for diabetes. Screening and giving feedback is important in terms of awareness of participants’ actual weight status and may have an effect on program outcomes.

Weight misperception; Weight loss; Diabetes prevention; Risk screening; Risk perception