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The use of a 3D avatar to determine the association between actual and perceived body mass index


Introduction: Literature surrounding body image, body composition and Body Mass Index (BMI) have shown that when participant use visual impressions, they can often lead to a false  sense  of  weight  status.  Therefore,  the  main  objectives  of  this  investigation  was  to  determine participants BMI and to establish the correlation between actual and perceived BMI.

Method: n=32   female   participants   (x±s;   body   mass=70.1±13.6   kg,   stretched   stature=172.4±8.1  cm)  were  recruited.  A  computer  generated  (Unity  Player)  3D  Avatar  rotated 3600 and permitted a visual slide from an underweight to average to obese continuum. Stretched stature (m) and body mass (kg) was taken and values used to calculate BMI (kg/m2). P  value  was  set  at  (P<0.001)  and  a  Paired  t-Test was used to test for the difference and Pearson’s Correlation Coefficient was used to test for the strength of the association between the actual and perceived BMI.Results: Perceived  BMI  ranged  from  16.5  –  32.5  (x23.5±4.1),  whereas  the  actual  BMI  ranged from 17.7 – 31.3 (x24.3±3.7). A Paired t-test and Pearson’s Correlation Coefficient found values ranged from -5.3 and 8.6 (x- 0.2±2.5) and a value of t=0.81  and  r=0.68  suggesting a significant difference between actual and perceived BMI (P<0.001).

Discussion: This investigation reports that perceived BMI was higher than the participants actual BMI and that the use of visual impressions led to a false sense of weight status.

Recommendations: Further research is necessary to investigate the reasons behind these perceived  versus  actual  differences  and  the  creation  of  a  3D  Avatar  for  male  participants  and younger populations would be beneficial.


body mass index, 3D avatar, perceptions, weight status