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Validity of Web-Based Self-Reported Weight and Height: Results of the Nutrinet-Santé Study

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      Abstract

      Background

      With the growing scientific appeal of e-epidemiology, concerns arise regarding validity and reliability of Web-based self-reported data.

      Objective

      The objectives of the present study were to assess the validity of Web-based self-reported weight, height, and resulting body mass index (BMI) compared with standardized clinical measurements and to evaluate the concordance between Web-based self-reported anthropometrics and face-to-face declarations.

      Methods

      A total of 2513 participants of the NutriNet-Santé study in France completed a Web-based anthropometric questionnaire 3 days before a clinical examination (validation sample) of whom 815 participants also responded to a face-to-face anthropometric interview (concordance sample). Several indicators were computed to compare data: paired t test of the difference, intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC), and Bland–Altman limits of agreement for weight, height, and BMI as continuous variables; and kappa statistics and percent agreement for validity, sensitivity, and specificity of BMI categories (normal, overweight, obese).

      Results

      Compared with clinical data, validity was high with ICC ranging from 0.94 for height to 0.99 for weight. BMI classification was correct in 93% of cases; kappa was 0.89. Of 2513 participants, 23.5% were classified overweight (BMI≥25) with Web-based self-report vs 25.7% with measured data, leading to a sensitivity of 88% and a specificity of 99%. For obesity, 9.1% vs 10.7% were classified obese (BMI≥30), respectively, leading to sensitivity and specificity of 83% and 100%. However, the Web-based self-report exhibited slight underreporting of weight and overreporting of height leading to significant underreporting of BMI ( P<.05) for both men and women: –0.32 kg/m 2 (SD 0.66) and –0.34 kg/m 2 (SD 1.67), respectively. Mean BMI underreporting was –0.16, –0.36, and –0.63 kg/m 2 in the normal, overweight, and obese categories, respectively. Almost perfect agreement (ie, concordance) was observed between Web-based and face-to-face report (ICC ranged from 0.96 to 1.00, classification agreement was 98.5%, and kappa 0.97).

      Conclusions

      Web-based self-reported weight and height data from the NutriNet-Santé study can be considered as valid enough to be used when studying associations of nutritional factors with anthropometrics and health outcomes. Although self-reported anthropometrics are inherently prone to biases, the magnitude of such biases can be considered comparable to face-to-face interview. Web-based self-reported data appear to be an accurate and useful tool to assess anthropometric data.

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      Most cited references 57

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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            1Université Paris 13, Sorbonne Paris Cité, UREN (Nutritional Epidemiology Research Unit), Inserm (U557), Inra (U1125), Cnam BobignyFrance
            2Public Health Department Hôpital Avicenne BobignyFrance
            Author notes
            Corresponding Author: Camille Lassale c.lassale@ 123456uren.smbh.univ-paris13.fr
            Contributors
            Journal
            J Med Internet Res
            JMIR
            Journal of Medical Internet Research
            JMIR Publications Inc. (Toronto, Canada )
            1439-4456
            1438-8871
            August 2013
            08 August 2013
            : 15
            : 8
            23928492
            3742400
            v15i8e152
            10.2196/jmir.2575
            (Editor), (Reviewer), (Reviewer), (Reviewer),
            ©Camille Lassale, Sandrine Péneau, Mathilde Touvier, Chantal Julia, Pilar Galan, Serge Hercberg, Emmanuelle Kesse-Guyot. Originally published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (http://www.jmir.org), 08.08.2013.

            This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on http://www.jmir.org/, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.

            Categories
            Original Paper

            Medicine

            anthropometry, body weight, obesity, self-report, weights and measures, validation studies

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