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J Obes. 2010;2010. pii: 637829. doi: 10.1155/2010/637829. Epub 2010 May 5.

Variation in Provider Identification of Obesity by Individual- and Neighborhood-Level Characteristics among an Insured Population.

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  • 1Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 624 N. Broadway, Room 451, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.


Objective. The purpose of this study was to examine whether neighborhood- and individual-level characteristics affect providers' likelihood of providing an obesity diagnosis code in their obese patients' claims. Methods. Logistic regressions were performed with obesity diagnosis code serving as the outcome variable and neighborhood characteristics and member characteristics serving as the independent variables (N = 16,151 obese plan members). Results. Only 7.7 percent of obese plan members had an obesity diagnosis code listed in their claims. Members living in neighborhoods with the largest proportions of Blacks were 29 percent less likely to receive an obesity diagnosis (P < .05). The odds of having an obesity diagnosis code were greater among members who were female, aged 44 or below, hypertensive, dyslipidemic, BMI >/= 35 kg/m(2), had a larger number of provider visits, or who lived in an urban area (all P < .05). Conclusions. Most health care providers do not include an obesity diagnosis code in their obese patients' claims. Rates of obesity identification were strongly related to individual characteristics and somewhat associated with neighborhood characteristics.

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