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BRIEF COMMUNICATION
Year : 2015  |  Volume : 28  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 96-100

Accuracy of body weight perceptions among students in a medical school in Central Delhi, India


1 Senior Resident, Department of Community Medicine, Maulana Azad Medical College and Associated Hospitals, New Delhi, India
2 Intern, Department of Community Medicine, Maulana Azad Medical College and Associated Hospitals, New Delhi, India
3 Associate Professor, Department of Community Medicine, Maulana Azad Medical College and Associated Hospitals, New Delhi, India
4 Director Professor, Department of Community Medicine, Maulana Azad Medical College and Associated Hospitals, New Delhi, India
5 Director Professor and Head, Department of Community Medicine, Maulana Azad Medical College and Associated Hospitals, New Delhi, India

Correspondence Address:
Tanu Anand
H-1/7, Malviya Nagar, New Delhi - 110 017
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/1357-6283.161948

Background: Body image is an important aspect of the complex creation of one's self-identity. The relationship between nutritional disorders, like obesity, and one's perception of her or his body is well documented. Obesity among medical students and health personnel is on the rise. Identifying and measuring the magnitude of distortion in body image self-perception among medical students is particularly relevant, as they are future healthcare providers. This paper assesses self-perceptions of body mass index (BMI) and physical activity among medical undergraduate students in an Indian medical school. Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted among 161 sixth semester medical undergraduate students in a school in Delhi, India. A pretested questionnaire was used. Anthropometric measurements were taken. The participation rate was 93.6%. Results: Out of the total 161 students, there were 60.9% males and 39.1% females. Most participants were classified as normal (55.9%) according to BMI. The proportions of actual obese, overweight and underweight students were 4.4%, 30.4% and 9.3%, respectively. However, the proportion of students perceiving themselves as obese or overweight was only 37.3%. A significantly higher proportion of females (57.2%) than males (20.4%) perceived themselves as overweight (P < 0.001). The agreement between actual BMI and perceived weight was poor (kappa statistic: 0.33). Among actual overweight and obese students, only one-third were physically active. Conclusions: Students who were overweight or obese often failed to perceive themselves as such and, perhaps consequently, were not engaging in weight control practices. There is a need to develop health promotion interventions that help build healthy body habitus perceptions among this group of Indian medical students.


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