The Accuracy of Self-Reported Anthropometry: Obesity among Older Mexicans

Palloni, Alberto, Beth Soldo, and Rebeca Wong
Working paper no. 2004-23


Recent surveys of older adults include batteries of questions or modules on self-reported chronic conditions as well as on limited self-reported anthropometry. Experience with such surveys in developed countries shows that some self-reported conditions possess reasonably high validity. There is much less information on the accuracy of self-reported anthropometry. In developing countries these problems are virtually unexplored. This is a problematic gap in our knowledge since no less than ten different surveys are currently in the field eliciting information on these characteristics.

In this paper we use a new data set to explore the accuracy of self-reported height and weight in a sample of older adults in Mexico. In this survey (MHAS), administered to a nationally representative sample of older adults fifty and over, actual measures of body weight and stature were collected for a sub-sample jointly with self-reported weight and height.

Our analyses probe the following four issues: (a) the degree of concordance between self-report and objective measures; (b) individual determinants of discordance (c) biases in estimates of determinants of obesity when assessed from self-reported height and weight, (d) biases in equations assessing the relation between obesity evaluated through self-reported height and weight and self-reported diabetes.