Self-report versus objective measurement of weight history: implications for pre-treatment weight gain

  • Phoutdavone Phimphasone-Brady
  • Lindsey M. Dorflinger
  • Christopher Ruser
  • Anastasia Bullock
  • Kathryn M. Godfrey
  • Dominica Hernandez
  • Kathryn M. Min
  • Robin M. MashebEmail author
Brief Report


There is increasing concern that patients gain considerable weight in the year prior to treatment and that outcomes may not reflect true treatment losses. To date, we know little about the accuracy of self-reported weight change prior to treatment. To investigate weight gain, and accuracy of self-reported recent weight history, Veterans (n = 126) reported their current weight and one-year weight history prior to entering treatment. These weights were compared to electronic medical record weights. Patients gained an average of 2.03 kg (4.5 lbs) in the year prior to treatment. Self-report and objective weight assessments showed high concurrent validity at the group level. However, standard deviations for the absolute difference scores revealed high individual variability in historical reporting, suggesting that weight loss seeking patients are inaccurate reporters of recent weight. Our findings have implications for the emerging area of pre-treatment weight gain research and processes for clinical care.


Obesity Pre-treatment weight change Weight recall Veterans Weight loss predictors 



We thank Alison G. Marsh for assistance in preparing this manuscript for submission. We also thank Jodi Holtrop, PhD, and Bethany Kwan, PhD, for their review on previous versions of this manuscript.


This project was supported in part by VA’s Health Services Research and Development (HSR&D) Center of Innovation (COIN), Pain Research, Informatics, Multi-morbidities, and Education (PRIME) Center, West Haven, CT (CIN 13-407). The content of this research is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the Department of Veterans Affairs or Veterans Health Administration.

Compliance with ethical standard

Conflict of interest

Phoutdavone Phimphasone-Brady, Lindsey M. Dorflinger, Christopher Ruser, Anastasia Bullock, Kathryn M. Godfrey, Dominica Hernandez, Kathryn M. Min, and Robin M. Masheb do not have any conflicts of interest or disclosures to declare.

Human and animal rights and Informed consent

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Participants completed this study as part of standard clinical care. Written consent was waived with implied consent, and the study was approved by the IRB at VA Connecticut Healthcare System.


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Copyright information

© This is a U.S. Government work and not under copyright protection in the US; foreign copyright protection may apply 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Phoutdavone Phimphasone-Brady
    • 1
  • Lindsey M. Dorflinger
    • 2
  • Christopher Ruser
    • 3
    • 4
  • Anastasia Bullock
    • 5
  • Kathryn M. Godfrey
    • 6
  • Dominica Hernandez
    • 7
  • Kathryn M. Min
    • 3
  • Robin M. Masheb
    • 3
    • 8
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Family Medicine, Adult and Child Consortium for Health Outcomes Research and Delivery Science (ACCORDS), Center on AgingUniversity of Colorado School of MedicineAuroraUSA
  2. 2.Behavioral HealthWalter Reed National Military Medical CenterBethesdaUSA
  3. 3.Veterans Initiative for Eating and Weight (The VIEW)VA Connecticut Healthcare System, PRIME Center/11ACSLGWest HavenUSA
  4. 4.Internal MedicineYale School of MedicineNew HavenUSA
  5. 5.Division of Behavioral MedicineCooper University HospitalCamdenUSA
  6. 6.Center for Weight Eating and Lifestyle ScienceDrexel UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA
  7. 7.Institute for Collaboration on Health, Intervention, and PolicyUniversity of ConnecticutStorrsUSA
  8. 8.Department of PsychiatryYale School of MedicineNew HavenUSA

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