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Accuracy of Weight Perception Among American Indian Tribal College Students

      Introduction

      National data indicate a higher prevalence of obesity among American Indian (AI) populations and greater disparity of morbidity and mortality among younger age groups compared with other ethnicities. Diet and physical activity are important obesity preventive behaviors, but no published data exist that describe these behaviors in relation to obesity in AI young adults at tribal colleges. Study purposes were to: (1) identify fruit and vegetable intake and physical activity practices of AI young adults from three U.S. tribal colleges according to BMI categories; (2) identify the accuracy of body weight perceptions; and (3) identify predictor variables for weight misperception.

      Methods

      In this observational study during 2011–2014, a total of 1,256 participants were recruited from three participating U.S. tribal colleges to complete an online survey addressing issues related to diet, physical activity, and weight perception. Reported height and weight were used to calculate BMI categories, and differences between BMI categories were examined. Gender differences related to accuracy of weight perception by BMI categories were also examined. Analyses were conducted in 2016.

      Results

      Based on self-reported height and weight, 68% of the sample was overweight or obese (BMI ≥25) and mean BMI was 28.9 (SD=6.9). Most did not meet recommendations for fruit intake (78.7%), vegetable intake (96.6%), or physical activity (65.6%). More than half (53.7%%) who were overweight/obese underestimated their weight category. Men more often underestimated their weight category (54.2%) than women (35.1%).

      Conclusions

      Interventions are needed to improve weight-related lifestyle behaviors of AI tribal college students.
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