Body image rating scales to assess obesity

Nguyen Vinh Toan Tran, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Obesity prevalence in the U.S. has increased during the last three decades with major impact on public health. Screening for obesity in a population with unknown weight status can be time- and resource-consuming, but the information is valuable for prioritizing and allocating scarce resources. The challenge remains to properly assess obesity with the available methods. Body Image Rating Scales (BIRS) have initially been developed to assess body image disturbances, but also seem useful as an alternative method in assessing obesity prevalence. Several different BIRS exists. In this project I reviewed the literature that exists regarding the use of BIRS, and its advantages and limitations for the assessment of obesity status with regards to BMI. The result yielded nine publications that examined eight different scales and their correlation with BMI, ranging from r=.59 for self-reported BMI to r=.94 for measured BMI. One concern is the lack of standardization of this method to assess obesity, given the range of different scales. While many methods for obesity assessment are available, the simplicity, ease of use and cost-effectiveness of BIRS make it very appealing. BIRS remain a potentially attractive option to assess the weight status of a large population with minimal requirements in assets and time, especially in situations where measuring instruments are not available, or when height or weight could not be recalled.

Subject Area

Public health

Recommended Citation

Tran, Nguyen Vinh Toan, "Body image rating scales to assess obesity" (2010). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1479582.