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Many Obese Patients Are Lacking Formal Diagnosis

Less than 50 percent of those with a BMI >30 kg/m² have ICD-9 documentation for obesity

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THURSDAY, Nov. 3, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Many patients with obesity, as classified according to body mass index (BMI), have not received a formal diagnosis using International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision (ICD-9) documentation, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of The Obesity Society (ObesityWeek), held from Oct. 31 to Nov. 4 in New Orleans.

Bartolome Burguera, M.D., Ph.D., from the Cleveland Clinic, and colleagues used electronic health record data to create a cross-sectional summary of patients. Data were included for 324,199 active patients, stratified according to BMI category.

The researchers found that 37.4 percent of patients were overweight (BMI ≥25 and <29.9 kg/m²), and 23.2, 10.5, and 7.8 percent, respectively, had obesity class 1, 2, and 3 (BMI: 30 to 34.9, 35 to 39.9, and ≥40 kg/m², respectively). The prevalences of type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease were increased within higher versus lower BMI categories (P < 0.0001). Only 48 percent of patients with a BMI >30 kg/m² had a documentation of an ICD-9 code for obesity. Only 75 percent of patients with a BMI >40 kg/m² had an ICD-9 code for obesity.

"The disease of obesity is very prevalent yet too often underdiagnosed, which could be an important barrier to getting initial care," Burguera said in a statement. "By providing a formal diagnosis, we may be able to help people get the treatment they need to lose weight and get healthy."

The study was funded by Novo Nordisk.

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