When knowing hurts: Self-perceived overweight predicts future physical health and well being


Daly, Michael; Robinson, E.; & Sutin, A. R. (2017). When knowing hurts: Self-perceived overweight predicts future physical health and well being. American Psychosomatic Society Annual Meeting. Sefille, Spain.


Large scale personalized weight feedback programmes have been designed to increase awareness of overweight and prompt weight loss. However, self-identification as being ‘overweight' may be counterintuitively associated with adverse health outcomes. Here we sought to identify whether perceived overweight is prospectively associated with worse health 7 years later. Participants were 3,582 adults drawn from the US National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health) and followed up from 2001/2002 to 2008/2009. Health status was evaluated using a measure of self-reported health and a measure of overall physiological dysregulation derived from a set of well-established clinical indicators of cardiovascular, inflammatory and metabolic functioning. Depressive symptoms were assessed using the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D). Perceived overweight predicted longitudinal declines in subjective health (d = -0.22, p <.001), increases in depressive symptoms (d = 0.09,p < .05), and raised levels of physiological dysregulation (d = 0.24, p <.001) 7 years later. Weight gain partially mediated the long-term prospective association between self-identification as overweight and health status as gauged by physiological dysregulation and participant perceptions of physical health (see Table 1). These effects remained strong after controlling for a range of potential confounders including baseline body mass index (BMI) and were observed irrespective of whether self-perceptions of overweight were accurate or inaccurate. The present research suggests that self-identification as overweight may act independently of BMI to contribute to unhealthy profiles of physiological functioning and impaired health over time. These findings underscore the importance of evaluating whether weight feedback interventions may have unforeseen adverse consequences.



Reference Type

Conference proceeding

Book Title

American Psychosomatic Society Annual Meeting


Daly, Michael
Robinson, E.
Sutin, A. R.

Year Published


City of Publication

Sefille, Spain

Reference ID