Suboptimal identification of obesity by family physicians

Osnat C. Melamed, Sasson Nakar, Shlomo Vinker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: To examine how family physicians identify and document obesity. Study Design: Prospective cross-sectional study of 289 patients in 7 family practice clinics of Clalit Health Services in Israel. Methods: Two hundred eighty-nine patients from 7 family practice clinics had their body mass index (BMI [calculated as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared]) determined by the study staff and subsequently compared with the data retrieved from the family practices' database regarding physicians' BMI documentation and obesity diagnosis. Demographic variables, comorbidities, and medication use were also extracted. Multivariate odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (Cls) were obtained to determine the predictors of BMI documentation. Results: Seventy-eight of 289 patients (27.0%) were obese (BMI, ≥30.0), and 126 (43.6%) were overweight (BMI range, 25.0 to ≤29.9). Body mass index was documented in 39 of 78 obese patients (50.0%) and in 49 of 126 overweight patients (38.9%) (P<.001). Diagnosis of obesity was recorded in 19 of 78 obese patients (24.4%). Older patients (OR, 2.77; 95% Cl, 1.39-5.49) and Obese patients (OR, 2.04; 95% Cl, 1.04-3.99) were more likely to have their weight and height measured and BMI calculated by their physician. Patients with comorbid conditions such as diabetes mellitus (OR, 4.35; 95% Cl, 2.20-8.62) and hypertension (OR, 3.20; 95% Cl, 1.71-5.99) and patients taking chronic medications (OR, 3.44; 95% Cl, 1.20-9.83) were also more likely to have their BMI documented. Conclusions: Family physicians failed to identify most obese and overweight patients, as seen by lack of BMI documentation and concordant diagnoses in the medical problem list. Determination of BMI by physicians in family practice is of utmost importance, and its incorporation into medical care should be optimized.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)619-624
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Managed Care
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2009


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