Your Healthiest Weight: View Skewed?

Overweight people with diabetes may overestimate their healthiest weight

Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD on March 23, 2006
From the WebMD Archives

March 14, 2006 -- If someone asked you to name your healthiest weight, what would you say?

If you have diabetes and are overweight, you might give yourself too much leeway, according to a study in Diabetes Care.

The study comes from the University of Pittsburgh's Kathleen McTigue, MD, MS, MPH, and colleagues. They mailed surveys to nearly 2,600 diabetes patients; completed surveys came back from nearly a quarter of the group.

The surveys gauged participants' general knowledge about diabetes, height, weight, and self-defined 'healthiest weight' for their height. The bottom line: Many of the participants with extra pounds overestimated their healthiest weight.

Missing the Mark

About half of the participants were obese, according to their body mass index (BMI).

BMI is based on weight and height. BMIs are classified as underweight, normal, overweight, or obese.

Nearly four in 10 participants (41%) named a 'healthiest weight' that actually put them in the overweight BMI range. Few (6%) named a number in the obese BMI range. Only one person named a weight that was in the underweight range.

It's not that heavy participants were blind to their size. Most knew they were overweight, judging by the 'healthiest weights' they chose. They just didn't all know where to draw the line between normal and overweight.

Weighty Issue

Heavier patients and men were more likely to overestimate their ideal weight, the study shows.

"For example, 66% of obese participants, 41% of overweight participants, and 4% of those with normal BMI identified overweight or obese measurements as ideal for health," the study states.

Good general knowledge about diabetes and length of time since diagnosis didn't affect the results.

Many people didn't return the surveys, and the results might not apply to everyone with diabetes, the researchers note. Even so, people with diabetes may need more counseling about body size, write McTigue and colleagues.

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SOURCES: McTigue, K. Diabetes Care, March 2006; vol 29: pp 695-697. News release, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

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