Public Health Nutrition

Assessment and methodology

Accuracy and reliability of self-reported weight and height in the Sister Study

Cynthia J Lina1, Lisa A DeRooa1, Sara R Jacobsa1 and Dale P Sandlera1 c1

a1 Epidemiology Branch, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, PO Box 12233, MD A3-05, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, USA


Objective To assess the accuracy and reliability of self-reported weight and height and identify the factors associated with reporting accuracy.

Design Analysis of self-reported and measured weight and height from participants in the Sister Study (2003–2009), a nationwide cohort of 50 884 women aged 35–74 years in the USA with a sister with breast cancer.

Setting Weight and height were reported via computer-assisted telephone interview (CATI) and self-administered questionnaires, and measured by examiners.

Subjects Early enrolees in the Sister Study. There were 18 639 women available for the accuracy analyses and 13 316 for the reliability analyses.

Results Using weighted kappa statistics, comparisons were made between CATI responses and examiner measures to assess accuracy and CATI and questionnaire responses to assess reliability. Polytomous logistic regression evaluated factors associated with over- or under-reporting. Compared with measured values, agreement was 96 % for reported height (±1 inch (±2·5 cm); weighted κ = 0·84) and 67 % for weight (±3 lb (±1·36 kg); weighted κ = 0·92). Obese women (BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2) were more likely than normal-weight women to under-report weight by ≥5 % and underweight women (BMI < 18·5 kg/m2) were more likely to over-report. Among normal-weight and overweight women (18·5 kg/m2 ≤ BMI < 30 kg/m2), weight cycling and lifetime weight difference ≥50 lb (≥22·68 kg) were associated with over-reporting.

Conclusions US women in the Sister Study were reasonably reliable and accurate in reporting weight and height. Women with normal-range BMI reported most accurately. Overweight and obese women and those with weight fluctuations were less accurate, but even among obese women, few under-reported their weight by >10 %.

(Received December 08 2010)

(Accepted November 04 2011)

(Online publication December 09 2011)


c1 Corresponding author: Email