Validity of self‐reported recall of anthropometric measures in early life: A systematic review and meta‐analysis Academic Article uri icon

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  • Overweight and obesity in early life are risk factors for many adult-onset chronic diseases. The objective of this study was to assess the validity of self-reported recall of early life anthropometric measures. A systematic review was conducted by searching four electronic databases (PubMed, ProQuest, EMBASE, and MEDLINE). Studies were eligible if they evaluated the validity or reliability of self-reported recall by adults of their own body mass index, height, and/or weight during earlier life periods. Meta-analyses were conducted to pool correlation coefficients and mean differences. There were 15 studies included with a total of 17 477 participants. The mean pooled difference between self-reported recall of BMI compared with prospective measures was 0.06 kg/m2 (95% CI, -0.62 to 0.73), and the pooled correlation coefficient was 0.72 (95% CI, 0.65-0.79). Self-reported weight was also strongly correlated with reference standard measures (pooled r = 0.83; 95% CI, 0.72-0.90) with a small mean difference (0.87 kg; 95% CI, 0.19-1.56; I2 = 91%). Despite significant heterogeneity, the findings from this review suggest self-reported recall of early life body mass index, height, and weight may be valid measures. This evidence may inform life-course epidemiology studies considering the use of retrospective assessment of self-reported anthropometry.


  • De Rubeis, Vanessa
  • Bayat, Sawila
  • Griffith, Lauren E
  • Smith, Brendan T
  • Anderson, Laura

publication date

  • October 2019