Effect of the availability of weight and height data on the frequency of primary care physicians' documented BMI, diagnoses and management of overweight and obesity

Qual Prim Care. 2013;21(4):221-8.


Background: Obesity and overweight diagnoses and treatment in primary care are very low despite the high prevalence of obesity. Insufficient data exist on whether a body mass index (BMI) chart reminder improves the diagnosis and management of obesity and overweight in primary care.

Methods: We designed and placed a BMI reminder stamp on progress notes from routine medical visits. We assessed the difference between baseline and study periods in the proportion of visits with documented: (1) BMI, (2) weight diagnoses, and (3) weight-management plan.

Results: Obesity and overweight prevalence were 45 and 31%, respectively. Physicians documented BMI in 3% (10/383) of visits at baseline compared with 5% (20/383) during the study period (P = 0.04). There was no difference in the frequency of weight diagnoses between the study periods (18 vs 19%; P = 0.7). The rate of documentation of weight-management strategies was 9% (vs. 10% at baseline, P = 0.75).

Conclusions: We observed a statistically significant association between the BMI chart reminder and physician documentation of BMI, but found no association between the BMI chart reminder and documentation of weight diagnoses or management. Research is needed to determine the usefulness of these reminders or of more intensive, yet practical, interventions in promoting physician recognition and management of overweight and obesity.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Body Height*
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Body Weight*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / diagnosis
  • Obesity / therapy
  • Overweight / diagnosis*
  • Overweight / therapy
  • Physicians, Primary Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prevalence
  • Sex Factors
  • Weight Loss