Cognitive insight is associated with perceived body weight in overweight and obese adults

Suliman, Sharain ; L. van den Heuvel, Leigh ; Kilian, Sanja ; Bröcker, Erine ; Asmal, Laila ; Emsley, Robin ; Seedat, Soraya (2021-03-19)

Journal Article

Abstract Background Accurate perception of body weight is necessary for individuals with a high body mass index (BMI) to initiate strategies to improve their health status. Furthermore, identifying factors that influence accurate body weight perception can assist in designing appropriate educational and weight management programs. We therefore aimed to investigate whether levels of cognitive functioning and insight influence the ability to correctly judge body weight. Methods One hundred and eighty four overweight and obese adults who participated in a cross- sectional case-control study and were controls in the aforementioned study were included. The study was conducted in Cape Town, South Africa. Demographic, weight-related, neuropsychiatric, neurocognitive and cognitive insight measures were administered. Regression analysis was conducted to determine the factors associated with correct weight perception. Results The final regression model explained 52.3% of variation in accurate perception of body weight and was significant (p ≤ 0. 001). The model correctly classified 79.3% of individuals who were able to correctly and incorrectly judge their weight. Adults with higher BMI, and lower self-certainty, those who reported that they had gained weight in the previous year and those who were told by a healthcare professional to lose or maintain a healthy weight were more likely to correctly judge their weight. Conclusion Some aspects of cognitive insight (self-certainty) but not cognitive functioning were associated with perception of body weight in this sample. Awareness of recent weight changes, higher BMI and advice from of health care professionals were also significantly associated with perception of body weight, while demographic variables were not. Understanding the factors that contribute to the correct perception of weight is important in identifying appropriate health interventions that may address the burden of associated non-communicable diseases in overweight and obese individuals.

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