CDC report finds that visits with an obesity diagnosis comprise 2% of total visits
There were 11 million visits to a physician for obesity in the U.S. in 2012, an annual visit rate of 49 per 1,000 people, according to the latest numbers from the CDC.
The visits comprised 2% of all adult visits to the doctor, barring nonpregnant and nonpostpartum adults, according to the numbers, which were posted online on Thursday. The researchers -- Anjali Talwalkar, MD, MPH, now with the District of Columbia Department of Health, and Frances McCarty, MEd, PhD, with the National Center for Health Statistics -- also found that patients ages 20-39 had a significantly lower visit rate (32 visits per 1,000) for obesity than did the older age groups.
In addition, women had a significantly higher visit rate (60 visits per 1,000) than did men (37 visits).
"Examining office visits for obesity can help monitor and inform ongoing efforts to meet Healthy People 2020 objectives for weight status in health care settings," wrote the authors, referring to a government attempt to identify and address the nation's most urgent health problems by the end of the decade.
Patients were more likely to list other chronic conditions when visiting the doctor for obesity than for other conditions, the report found. And those visits were 25% more likely to include basis assessments like height, weight, and blood pressure, and 50% more likely to include blood glucose and lipid tests, than visits for other reasons.
In addition, the patients who visited the doctor because of obesity were four times as likely as other patients to be educated about diet and nutrition (33% of obesity patients versus 6% of others), exercise (24% versus 5%), and weight reduction (26% versus 2%).
The most common chronic conditions listed by patients visiting because of obesity included hypertension (42%), hyperlipidemia (27%), diabetes (24%), arthritis (16%), depression (15%), and asthma (8%). Nearly three-quarters of patients who visited for obesity were diagnosed with any additional condition.
There was no difference between visits for obesity or for other diagnosis in whether doctors assessed the patient's tobacco use.
Data for the analysis came from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey and covered adults age 20 and over.
Primary Source: National Center for Health Statistics Data Brief
Talwalkar A, et al. Characteristics of physician office visits for obesity by adults aged 20 and over: United States, 2012. NCHS Data Brief 2016; No. 237.