"We wanted to understand how well patients with diabetes could identify healthy body weight because self-management is an essential part of diabetes treatment," said Kathleen McTigue, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh and first author of the study. "Understanding weight-related health risk could be an important step toward setting healthy lifestyle goals and effective weight management."
In a survey of 2,461 diabetes patients, responses revealed that many had a less-than-accurate view of healthy body weight.
"Among respondents, 41 percent reported a 'healthiest' weight for their height that actually measured in the overweight body mass index (BMI) range, and 6 percent reported a 'healthiest' weight that was obese," said Dr. McTigue, who also is an internal medicine specialist associated with the University of Pittsburgh Diabetes Institute (UPDI). "One participant selected a BMI in the underweight range as 'healthiest.' "
Among respondents whose BMI measurements classified them as obese, 66 percent identified overweight or obese dimensions as ideal for health. Among the overweight, some 41 percent chose a higher-than-optimal body weight as healthy. In contrast, only 4 percent of normal-weight patients overestimated healthy body weight.
Body size and gender were associated with accurate choice of a healthy body weight. Interestingly, women were more likely than men to correctly identify a weight in the normal BMI range as healthy.
Even so, the survey revealed considerable confusion about body weight in general. Some 65 percent of those reporting normal-BMI height and weight considered themselves to be overweight, leading the authors to speculate that current educational initiatives