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Prev Med. 2017 Jun;99:128-133. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2017.02.020. Epub 2017 Feb 21.

Adult obesity management in primary care, 2008-2013.

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Department of Preventive Medicine, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL, United States. Electronic address:
Center for Health Research, Kaiser Permanente Northwest, Portland, OR, United States.


In the U.S., the occurrence of weight counseling in primary care for patients with obesity decreased by 10% between 1995-1996 and 2007-2008. There have been several national recommendations and policies to improve obesity management since 2008. The purpose of this study was to examine the rates of body mass index (BMI) screening, obesity diagnosis, and weight management counseling in the U.S. from 2008 to 2013. The National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey visit-level data for adults 18 and over with a primary care visit during survey years 2008-2009, 2010-2011, and 2012-2013 was included in the analyses using SAS v9.3. Study outcomes included percent of visits with: BMI screening; obesity diagnosis; and weight counseling. We compared survey years on these outcomes using 2008-2009 as the reference as well as examined patient and practice-level predictors. Analyses were conducted from 2015 to early 2017. Of the total 55,608 adult primary care visits sampled, 14,143 visits (25%) were with patients with obesity. BMI screening significantly increased between 2008-2009 and 2012-2013 from 54% to 73% (OR=1.75, 95% CI 1.28-2.41); however, percent of visits with an obesity diagnosis remained low at <30%. Weight management counseling during visits significantly declined from 33% to 21% between 2008-2009 and 2012-2013 (OR=0.62, 95% CI 0.41-0.92). Despite emerging recommendations and policies, from 2008 to 2013, obesity management in primary care remained suboptimal. Identifying practical strategies to enforce policies and implement evidence-based behavioral treatment in primary care should be a high priority in healthcare reform.


Obesity; Primary care; Weight management counseling

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