Validation of a weight history questionnaire to identify adolescent obesity

Todd M. Jenkins*, C. Ralph Buncher, Rachel Akers, Stephen R. Daniels, M. Louise Lawson, Philip R. Khoury, Tawny P. Wilson, Thomas H. Inge

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background: Past body weight may be a more informative factor than current weight for risk of chronic disease development. Often, investigators must rely on subject recall to gauge past body weights. The Cincinnati Weight History Questionnaire (CWHQ) was developed to aid in the retrospective identification of adults who were obese during adolescence. Methods: To assess validity, the CWHQ was administered to a subset of National Heart, Lung, and Blood Growth and Health Study (NGHS) participants, a group of young adult females for whom historical measured anthropometrics were available. One hundred ninety-eight NGHS participants were contacted, of whom 191 (97 %) responded (age 26-29). Participants were asked to recall height and weight from ages 13 and 18, which were compared to previously measured values. Multiple indices of validity (Bland-Altman plots, sensitivity, and specificity) were calculated. Results: The CWHQ was moderately sensitive (range, 19-66 %), but highly specific (range, 89-100 %). Recalled height and weight values used to determine body mass index (BMI) underestimated BMI based on recorded height and weight at ages 13 and 18. Differences in calculated BMI based on recalled and measured height and weight were found to increase with BMI calculated using measured values. Conclusions: The CWHQ proved to be a moderately sensitive, but highly specific instrument for detecting adolescent obesity in a cohort of young adult females. Epidemiologic research seeking to discriminate between adults with adult-onset vs. adolescent-onset obesity may find the CWHQ useful.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1404-1412
Number of pages9
JournalObesity Surgery
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Obesity
  • Recall
  • Validity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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