Weight, weight perceptions, and health-related quality of life among a national sample of US girls

Tilda Farhat*, Ronald J. Iannotti, Faith Summersett-Ringgold

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Objective: To examine associations between 3 weight indices (weight status, perceived weight, and weight status perception accuracy) and heath-related quality of life (HRQOL). Methods: Data are for girls in the 2009 Health Behaviors in School-Age Children survey, a nationally representative sample of students in Grades 5 to 10 during the 2009/2010 school year (n 5018). Controlling for sociodemographics, multivariate linear regressions examined associations between self-reported weight status (underweight/normal/overweight/obese), perceived weight (how children categorize their weight), weight status perception accuracy (underestimate/accurate perception/overestimate), and dimensions of HRQOL, including physical, emotional, social, and school functioning. Results: Although obesity was only associated with poor physical and emotional HRQOL, perceptions of being overweight were associated with worse physical, emotional, school, and social HRQOL. Furthermore, girls who overestimated their weight reported poorer HRQOL than those with accurate weight perceptions. Associations of perceptions of being overweight and weight status overestimation with poor HRQOL despite, in most instances, the absence of associations between weight status and HRQOL suggest that weight status perceptions may not merely be a mediator of a weight status-HRQOL association but a significant independent correlate of poor HRQOL. Conclusion: These findings raise the issue of whether there is a need to prioritize intervention efforts to promote better HRQOL by redefining the population of girls most at risk. Parents, teachers, and clinicians should be aware that, rather than overweight status, perceptions of being overweight (accurately or not) are associated with a poor HRQOL among girls. Future research should examine the potential negative effect of using specific body image terminologies on adolescents' psychological health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)313-323
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 13 2015


  • girls
  • health-related quality of life
  • weight perceptions
  • weight status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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