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Revista Costarricense de Salud Pública

Print version ISSN 1409-1429


PADILLA VARGAS, G et al. Body weight perception and strategies used to control body weight among costa rican adults . Rev. costarric. salud pública [online]. 2007, vol.16, n.31, pp.48-54. ISSN 1409-1429.

Rationale: Obesity is considered a public-health problem. A direct survey is the method most-frequently used to generate relevant information but its high economic cost doesn´t allow obtaining periodic data. Other methods of collecting information have been tried and, among these, the telephone survey is seen as a valid option at lower cost. Objective: To explore the perception of body-weight among Costa Rican adults as well as the strategies used to control this variable by analyzing information obtained in the First Telephone Health Survey conducted by IDESPO (The Institute for Social Studies in Populations.) Methods: a cross-sectional, descriptive study was carried out. Open questions were developed having to do with knowledge, perception and strategies to deal with body-weight. These were incorporated into the Health Survey mentioned above. Results: 50.3 % and 42% of the subjects, respectively, had a self-perception of normal weight or of high - very high weight. The main weight-loss strategies were: doing exercise (29.4%), changes in diet and no special strategy (the latter as admitted by 42% of men and 44% of women). When comparison of self-perception of weight with estimated BMI was done, more than 25% of females and more than 34% of males of those thinking they had normal weight were actually overweight. Conclusions: a telephone-survey methodology introduces an underestimate in the self-perception of overweight according to age. While telephone surveys do not substitute direct surveys, they can be seen an an alternative to generate information about cardiovascular risk factors. The next challenge will to validate these surveys in Costa Rica.

Keywords : telephone interview; overweight; obesity; body-weight perception; weight-control strategies; BMI (body-mass index).

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