HealthDay News – In United States in 2012, 49 visits per 1,000 persons aged 20 and over were made to clinicians for obesity, with variations in visit rates by age and sex, according to a March data brief published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).1

Anjali Talwalkar, MD. MPH, and Frances McCarty, MEd, PhD, from the NCHS, examined health care visits for obesity (where the health care provider lists obesity as one of the diagnoses for the visit) by adults aged 20 years and older for 2012. The authors examined risk factors and provision of health education services at these visits using data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey.

The researchers found that there were 11 million visits for obesity in 2012, for an annual visit rate of 49 visits per 1,000 persons. There was variation in annual visit rates based on age and sex. At visits for obesity, additional chronic conditions were listed more frequently than at visits for other diagnoses. Compared with visits for other diagnoses, visits for obesity were 25% more likely to include height, weight, and blood pressure assessments and >50 percent more likely to include blood glucose and lipid testing. Compared with visits for other diagnoses, visits for obesity were at least four-fold more likely to offer health education about diet and nutrition, exercise, or weight reduction.

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“While health education is offered relatively more often at visits for obesity, overall, it is offered at less than one-half of these visits,” the authors write. “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.”

Summary and Clinical Applicability

In 2012, 11 million visits representing 2% of all visits by nonpregnant, nonpostpartum adults were made to physician office for obesity. Obesity rates are relevant to practice of rheumatology as obesity is a recognized risk factor for inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, and impacts rheumatic disease severity and outcomes.2  Adipokines have been shown to play a central role in both obesity and the inflammatory process in some rheumatic disease.2


1.  Talwalkar A, McCarty F. CDC National Center for Health Statistics, Characteristics of physician office visits for obesity by adults aged 20 and over: United States, 2012. NCHS data brief, no 237. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. March 2016. 

2.  Gremese E, Tolusso B, Gigante MR, Ferraccioli G. Obesity as a risk and severity factor in rheumatic diseases (autoimmune chronic inflammatory diseases). Front Immunol. 2014;5:576.