Main finding of this study
In our study, there was a significant difference between BMI and BWP in Chinese nurses. 40.6% of our respondents didn’t correctly identify their weight status. Married nurses were more likely than single nurses to overestimate their actual weight status. No associations were found between accuracy of BWP and age, education, per-capital disposable income. Nurses who underestimated their weight status reported higher quality of life scores in some sub-scale of SF-36 than nurse who correctly/ over-estimated their weight status.
What is already known on this topic
Existing US research reported that 49 % of overweight paediatricians didn’t identify their weight status correctly. Another UK research reported that 32.5% of nurses identify their weight status incorrectly.Previous studies have found that accuracy of BWP was associated with age, education and per-capital disposable income.15-17 Existing studies stated that obesity can lead to psychological, social, and medical problems that may negatively affect Qol.18,19
What this study adds
This was the first study to to examine Chinese healthy nurses’ misconceptions of weight status. The rate of nurses’ interceptions of weight status was 40.6%, lower than other study from US,20 but higher than other study from UK.21 The different rates of weight status misconception described by these studies may be explained by diversity in sample characteristics. However, nurse were health professionals, whose misconception of their own body weight could effect their identification of overweight patients.21 Thus correctly identification of body weight should be one of the basic skills of nurses to help patients with weight management.
We found that married nurses were more likely than single nurses to overestimate their actual weight status，which may be influenced by the weight labeling from their partners. Recent a study has pointed that the experience of weight labeling(i.e., merely being told one is“too fat” by others) might influence the self-perception of body weight status.22 Moreover their partners’ weight labeling may likely originate in the stereotypical image of slim girls. Married nurse had more chances to be told they are fat by partners in this traditional image. It is logical that married nurse easier to overestimate their body weight status than single nurses.
Previous studies have found that accuracy of BWP was associated with age, education and per-capital disposable income.15-17 These associations were not revealed in our 456patients. We expect that variations in study design and participants’ demographic characteristics might be the reasons for the discrepancy.
The prevalence of body weight underestimation was 0.0%, 9.2%, 31.5%, and 80.6%, respectively, in the successive BMI groups. Compared with underweight and normal weight nurses, overweight and obese nurses were easier to underestimate their body weight .76.7% of the nurse in underestimation group were overweight and obese. 95.12% of the nurse in overestimation group were underweight and normal weight. Additionally, We also found that a mismatch exists between BMI and BWP, consistent with previous studies.21,23 Misconception of body weight is therefore likely to be an important consideration for understanding the effects of underweight, overweight and obesity in China.
Some studies stated that obesity can lead to psychological, social, and medical problems that may negatively affect Qol.18,19 Interestingly, our study found that nurse who underestimated their weight status reported higher quality of life scores in some sub-scale of SF-36 than nurse who correctly/over-estimated their weight status. Since nurse who underestimated their weight status didn’t recognize the association of being overweight to an unhealthy condition, with consequent better scores on the evaluation of MH, VT, MCS and GH domains. But nurse who overestimated their weight status considered they are overweight/obesity, which lead to a worse scores on some domains of SF-36.
Limitations of this study
A major limitation of this research was its cross-sectional design, which makes causality was not able to be determined. Second, a single question was used to assessed the BWP, which may be inadequate for describing body image. Third, only age, education, marital status and yearly income were considered in assessing the BWP association.