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Military Medicine

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OBJECTIVE: The overall rate of obesity is rising in the USA; this is also reflected in the military population. It is important that providers appropriately diagnose obesity and discuss treatment options with their patients.The purpose of this study was to investigate diagnosis of obesity compared to documented body mass index (BMI) in the military health system.

METHODS: Institutional review board approval was obtained by the 59th Medical Wing (Lackland Air Force Base, Texas) as an exempt study. This study included active duty military service members aged 18-65 years who sought outpatient care at a military treatment facility from September 2013 to August 2018 with a weight within the range of 31.8-226.8 kg and height between 121.9 and 215.9 cm. Data were collected from the Clinical Data Repository vitals and M2 encounter data to determine the percentage of each sub-population with a diagnosis of obesity according to BMI (≥30 kg/m2) and International Classification of Diseases diagnosis codes.

RESULTS: Using BMI, 19.2% of female and 26.8% of male service members can be diagnosed with obesity; however, only 42.2% and 35.1%, respectively, with a BMI ≥30 was diagnosed as such. This discrepancy was consistent among all service branches and BMI ranges.

CONCLUSION: This study demonstrates that obesity is underdiagnosed compared to BMI. This may result in insufficient resources being provided to patients to reduce weight. Further investigation is warranted to identify causes of underdiagnosis and potential barriers to diagnosis.



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