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The Use of Stunkard’s Figure Rating Scale to Identify Underweight and Overweight in Chinese Adolescents
Published: Monday, November 26, 2012
Author: Wing-Sze Lo et al.

by Wing-Sze Lo, Sai-Yin Ho, Kwok-Kei Mak, Tai-Hing Lam


To compare the performance of Stunkard’s current body size (CBS) with self-reported body mass index (BMI), waist circumference (WC) and waist to stature ratio (WSR) in predicting weight status in Chinese adolescents, and to determine the CBS cutoffs for overweight/obesity and underweight.


This cross-sectional study was conducted in a sample of 5,418 secondary school students (45.2% boys; mean age 14.7 years). Height and weight were measured by trained teachers or researchers. Subjects were classified as underweight, normal weight, or overweight/obese according to the International Obesity Task Force cutoffs. Subjects were asked to select the figure that best resembled their CBS on the Stunkard’s figure rating scale. Self-reported height, weight, WC and WSR were also obtained. The performance of CBS, self-reported BMI, WC and WSR as a weight status indicator was analysed by sex-specific receiver operating characteristic curves. The optimal CBS cutoffs for underweight and overweight/obesity were determined based on the Youden Index.

Principal Findings

Apart from self-reported BMI, CBS had the greatest area under curve (AUC) for underweight in boys (0.82) and girls (0.81). For overweight/obesity, CBS also had a greater AUC (0.85) than self-reported WC and WSR in boys, and an AUC (0.81) comparable to self-reported WC and WSR in girls. In general, CBS values of 3 and 5 appeared to be the optimal cutoffs for underweight and overweight/obesity, respectively, in different sex-age subgroups.


CBS is a potentially useful indicator to assess weight status of adolescents when measured and self-reported BMI are not available.