BACKGROUND/AIMS: Monitoring overweight prevalence and its trends in Dutch youth is frequently based on self-reported data. The validity of self-reported data especially in young adolescents is not sufficiently known. The purpose of this study is to study the validity of self-reported height and weight in 12- to 13-year-olds, to identify sociodemographic correlates and to explore whether correction factors can be developed to estimate the prevalence of overweight in youth. METHODS: 5,525 12- to 13-year-old pupils in the Rotterdam area filled in a confidential questionnaire on health topics, including their height and weight. In a sub-sample of 499 pupils both self-reported and measured height and weight were available. RESULTS: Self-reported data led to a considerable underestimation of Body Mass Index and consequently the prevalence of overweight. Underestimation was higher in pupils who regarded themselves as more fat, were of non-Dutch origin and in lower education levels. CONCLUSION: Self-reported height and weight appeared to be inappropriate to estimate the overweight prevalence in 12- to 13-year-olds, unless the figures were adjusted. Using adjusted self-reported BMI on an individual level is questionable. Actual measurements of height and weight are necessary to draw up valid correction formulas in new samples.