Weight History in Clinical Practice: The State of the Science and Future Directions

Obesity (Silver Spring). 2020 Jan;28(1):9-17. doi: 10.1002/oby.22642.


Eliciting a weight history can provide clinically important information to aid in treatment decision-making. This view is consistent with the life course perspective of obesity and the aim of patient-centered care, one of six domains of health care quality. However, thus far, the value and practicality of including a weight history in the clinical assessment and treatment of patients with obesity have not been systematically explored. For these reasons, the Clinical Committee of The Obesity Society established a task force to review and assess the available evidence to address five key questions. It is concluded that weight history is an essential component of the medical history for patients presenting with overweight or obesity, and there are strong and emerging data that demonstrate the importance of life stage, duration of exposure to obesity, maximum BMI, and group-based trajectory modeling in predicting risk for increased morbidity and mortality. Consideration of these and other patient-specific factors may improve risk stratification and clinical decision-making for screening, counseling, and management. Recommendations are provided for the key elements that should be included in a weight history, and several needs for future clinical research are outlined.

MeSH terms

  • Body Weight / physiology*
  • Body-Weight Trajectory*
  • Counseling
  • Decision Making
  • Humans
  • Medical History Taking* / methods
  • Medical History Taking* / standards
  • Morbidity
  • Mortality
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Obesity / pathology
  • Obesity / therapy*
  • Overweight / epidemiology
  • Overweight / pathology
  • Overweight / therapy
  • Patient-Centered Care / methods
  • Patient-Centered Care / standards
  • Patient-Centered Care / trends*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / standards
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / trends