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Patient on Scale


Understanding Obesity Diagnosis in Missouri

Utilizing data representing 1.6 million Missourians, MHI explored trends in obesity diagnosis in the state from 2017-2020. Rates of obesity diagnosis dramatically increased in 2016, the first year of the ICD-10-CM. Yet, underdiagnosis is still rampant. Public health data show Missouri’s obesity prevalence to be 34% in 2020, however clinical diagnoses lag behind at only 8.3%.


Of those diagnosed with obesity, Class III categorization is the most frequently diagnosed, if a class categorization is even assigned. The majority of obesity diagnoses are not made by primary care physicians (PCP), but rather the majority are diagnosed by physician specialists. This is likely due to the linkage between obesity, increased mortality, and a greater intensity of medical services provided, which would require documentation of an obesity diagnosis for billing purposes.


Researchers have established a strong correlation between obesity and its associated comorbidities; MHI data concurs. Diagnosing obesity is the first step in providing the best care for patients with comorbidities. Acknowledging this correlation through documented obesity diagnoses enables medical care professionals to provide appropriate treatment, mitigate negative effects of existing conditions, and prevent certain conditions from occurring.

The Midwest Health Initiative thanks Champion for Health Care Value, Novo Nordisk, Inc., for contributions to this project and ongoing support of MHI's community work.

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