Body mass index measurement and obesity prevalence in ten U.S. health plans
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OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to examine the frequency of body mass index (BMI) measurement before the implementation of two new Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS) performance measures for obesity that require U.S. health plans to annually report the frequency of BMI and BMI percentile measurement among all adults and children who had at least one outpatient visit during the past two years. DESIGN: Cross-sectional study. SETTING: A consortium of ten U.S. health plans and care delivery systems from the Health Maintenance Organization Research Network, which together provide care to more than 6.5 million adults and children. PARTICIPANTS: Children and adults, age 2 years and older, who were continuously enrolled in one of ten U.S. health plans for at least one full year from 2005 to 2006. METHODS: We extracted available anthropometric data for 3.7 million adults and 1.2 million children with at least one visit captured from ten electronic medical record databases from 2005 to 2006. RESULTS: We found that the availability of BMI measurements for adults ranged widely across health plans from 28% to 88%, and availability of BMI percentiles for children ranged from 21% to 81%. Among adults and children with BMI measures in these ten health plans, the overall prevalence of overweight and obesity were very similar to those reported in the 2005 to 2006 U.S. national surveys that used measured heights and weights. CONCLUSION: The newly approved HEDIS performance measures likely represent an important step in addressing the quality of obesity care in the United States. The current study demonstrates that these HEDIS measures are achievable, especially among health plans that have implemented electronic medical records. Future research should assess the relationship between BMI assessment, provider counseling and treatment practices, and long-term changes in obesity rates among different population groups.
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