Diagnosing Obesity as a First Step to Weight Loss: An Observational Study

Elizabeth L. Ciemins*, Vaishali Joshi, John K. Cuddeback, Robert F. Kushner, Deborah B. Horn, W. Timothy Garvey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Objective: This study aimed to explore the relationship between an obesity diagnosis and weight loss as a percentage of total body weight loss over 9 to 15 months, using electronic health record data. Methods: An observational study of 688,878 adult patients at 15 health systems with BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2 examined the relationship between weight loss and documentation of obesity diagnosis. Multivariable logistic regression models were created using a stepwise backwards elimination procedure to identify potential predictors of weight loss. Results: Of patients with BMI ≥ 30, 44.9% had an obesity diagnosis on a claim or electronic health record problem list; 16.9% and 5.9% lost ≥ 5% and ≥ 10% of their body weight, respectively. Multivariable logistic regression models revealed a diagnosis of obesity on the same day as the initial weight (odds ratio [OR] = 1.3; CI: 1.2-1.3; P < 0.001) as a predictor of ≥ 5% total body weight loss in 9 to 15 months. Other significant predictors included an antiobesity medication prescription, female sex, diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, Medicare/Medicaid insurance, and number of ambulatory visits. Conclusions: While controlling for potentially confounding factors, documentation of an obesity diagnosis remained independently predictive of at least 5% weight loss. This suggests that documenting a diagnosis of obesity may be an important step toward engaging patients to lose weight.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2305-2309
Number of pages5
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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