(HealthDay News) – Self-perceived overweight in normal-weight adolescents correlates with increased weight gain in early adulthood.

Koenraad Cuypers, PhD, from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Levanger, and colleagues conducted a longitudinal study involving 1,196 normal-weight adolescents (13–19 years) to investigate the influence of self-perceived overweight on weight development in young adulthood (age 24–30 years). Using questionnaires, lifestyle and health issues were addressed; anthropometric measurements were recorded.

The researchers found that normal-weight adolescents who perceived themselves as overweight had a larger weight gain than those who perceived themselves as normal weight (difference, 0.66 body mass index units; 3.46cm waist circumference). This association was not moderated by physical activity.

“Perceiving themselves as fat even though they are not may actually cause normal-weight children to become overweight as adults,” Cuypers said in a statement. “The weight norms for society must be changed so that young people have a more realistic view of what is normal.”

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