Anthropometric measurements – Perception vs Reality


Understanding the role of anthropometric measurements is important for maintaining good health and avoiding obesity and malnutrition related medical problems. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the understanding of common anthropometric measurements such as height, weight and waist measurements among adults in an outpatient clinic by comparing their perceived and actual measurements.


A prospective, non-interventional study conducted in a free standing outpatient clinic from December 2014 to April 2015. All patients and attendants who consented to participate were included. Additionally volunteering healthcare professionals were included to compare perception of healthcare professionals with the non-medical general public. Participants were requested to complete a questionnaire with demographic information such as age, gender and occupation. In addition they were requested to document perceived anthropometric measurements and perceived level of physical fitness. They were also asked their opinion on importance of checking weight and their satisfaction about their current weight. Their actual height, weight and waist measurements were then measured and compared with their perceived measurements using Bland-Altman plots.

Results and Discussion

The study included 185 subjects (120M/65F; mean age–45.12?13.8; 59 healthcare professionals and 126 others). 85.4% of participants were confident about their weight, 71.9% of their height and 27.02% of their waist measurements. Participants underestimated their weight and waist measurement and overestimated their height. Mean differences for weight, height and waist measurements were 2.15kg, -0.18cm and 2 inches respectively. Range of agreement were (95%CI 6.71-11.03) for weight, (95%CI 8.07-8.44) for height and (95%CI 7.53-3.51) for waist measurement. Range of agreement was wide in both healthcare and non-healthcare groups (CI -6.73-4.95 and 10.48-7.81 respectively). On perceived fitness, 16.6% perceived themselves as excellently fit, 54.59% as above average, 7.5% as average and 21.6% as not fit. 87% participants (93.2% healthcare professionals) felt checking weight was important. 51.3% participants were unhappy with their weight, with a positive correlation between unhealthy BMI status and dissatisfaction.


In our study, a discrepancy existed between the actual and perceived anthropometric measurements of participants, irrespective of profession. Participants were generally more aware of their heights and weights than waist measurement. Participants with unhealthy BMI scores were more dissatisfied with their weight status.