Agricultural Economics Department



Christopher R. Gustafson

Date of this Version



Mbarushimana, J.-C.; Gustafson, C.R.; Gitungwa, H.; Zeballos, E. The Relationship between Bodyweight Status andWeight Perception Explains Differences in Calories Ordered in a Food Choice Exercise. Nutrients 2021, 13, 1794.


Copyright: © 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license


Understanding food choice is critical to be able to address the rise in obesity rates around the globe. In this paper, we examine the relationship between measured (BMI, using self-reported height and weight) and perceived weight status with the number of calories ordered in a controlled online food choice exercise. A total of 1044 participants completed an online food choice exercise in which they selected ingredients for a sandwich from five categories: meat/protein, cheese, spread/dressing, bread, and vegetables. We examine the number of calories ordered by participants and use linear regression to study the relationship of BMI category relative to self-reported perceived weight status with calories ordered. As a comparison to previous literature, we also examine the relationship between relative weight status and self-reported dieting behavior using logistic regression. We find that participants perceiving themselves to have a higher BMI than their BMI calculated using height and weight ordered significantly fewer calories and were more likely to report dieting than participants who perceived themselves to have a lower BMI than their calculated BMI. The relationship between perceived weight status and measured weight status explains behavior in a food choice task. Understanding how people perceive their weight may help design effective health messages.