A study on body-weight perception, future intention and weight-management behavior among normal-weight, overweight and obese women in India

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Article (peer-reviewed)

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Objective: We examined the socio-economic differential in the self-perception of body weight, future intention for weight management and actual weight-management behaviour among normal-weight, overweight and obese women in India. Design: A population-based follow-up survey of ever-married women, systematically selected from the second round of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-2, 1998-99) samples, who were re-interviewed after four years in 2003. Setting: Information on women's perception about their own weight, intention of weight management and actual weight-management behaviour were collected through personal interview. Anthropometric measurements were obtained from women to compute their current BMI. Subjects: Three hundred and twenty-five ever-married women aged 20-54 years residing in the national capital territory of Delhi in India. Results: Discrepancy between self-perceived body weight and women's actual body weight was reported. One-quarter of overweight women and one in ten obese women perceived themselves as normal weight. Although a majority of overweight and obese women wanted to reduce their weight, a significant proportion of overweight (one in four) and 4% of obese women also wanted to maintain their weight as it is. Only one in three overweight and one in four obese women were performing any physical activity to reduce their weight. Conclusions: These findings are important for public health interventions in obesity care. Implementation of health promotion and health education in the community should use effective school education and mass-media programmes to raise awareness of appropriate body weight to combat the growing level of obesity among Indian women.