Article thumbnail

Does Presenting Patients’ BMI Increase Documentation of Obesity?

By Norm Clothier MD, Kim Marvel PhD and Courtney S. Cruickshank MS


Purpose: Despite the associated health consequences, obesity is infrequently documented as a problem in medical charts. The purpose of this study is to determine whether a simple intervention (routine listing of the BMI on the medical chart) will increase physician documentation of obesity in the medical record. Methods: Participants were resident physicians in a family medicine residency program. Participants were randomly assigned to either an experimental group or a control group. For experimental group physicians, the Body Mass Index was listed alongside other vital signs of patients seen in an ambulatory setting. Physician documentation of patient obesity was assessed by chart review after patient visits. Documentation was defined as inclusion of obesity on the problem list or in the progress note. Results: The intervention did not significantly increase the rate of documentation of obesity in the medical chart. Several reasons for the lack of change are explored, including the difficulty of treating obesity successfully

Topics: MEO Peer Reviewed
Year: 2002
DOI identifier: 10.3402/meo.v7i.4535
OAI identifier:

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.

Suggested articles


  1. (1998). Clinical Guidelines on the Identification, Evaluation, and Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults Washington: Government Printing Office,
  2. (2001). Department of Health and Human Services. The Surgeon General’s call to action to prevent and decrease overweight and obesity. [Rockville, MD]: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Office of the Surgeon General;
  3. Does presenting patients’ BMI Med Educ Online [serial online] 2002;7:6. Available from URL increase documentation of obesity? Who reports receiving advice to lose weight?
  4. (1963). Experimental and quasi-experimental designs for research. Rand -Mcnally Publishing CO,
  5. (1995). Including Smoking Status as a New Vital Sign: It Works! The Journal of Family Practice.
  6. Obesity Management in Primary Care.
  7. (2001). Physician Involvement in the Management of Obesity as a Primary Medical Condition. Obesity Research,
  8. (1999). Weight loss counseling by health care providers.