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Health Services Research & Development

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HSR&D Citation Abstract

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Liu N, Birstler J, Venkatesh M, Hanrahan LP, Chen G, Funk LM. Weight Loss for Patients With Obesity: An Analysis of Long-Term Electronic Health Record Data. Medical care. 2020 Mar 1; 58(3):265-272.
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Abstract: BACKGROUND: Numerous studies have reported that losing as little as 5% of one's total body weight (TBW) can improve health, but no studies have used electronic health record data to examine long-term changes in weight, particularly for adults with severe obesity [body mass index (BMI) 35 kg/m]. OBJECTIVE: To measure long-term weight changes and examine their predictors for adults in a large academic health care system. RESEARCH DESIGN: Observational study. SUBJECTS: We included 59,816 patients aged 18-70 years who had at least 2 BMI measurements 5 years apart. Patients who were underweight, pregnant, diagnosed with cancer, or had undergone bariatric surgery were excluded. MEASURES: Over a 5-year period: (1) 5% TBW loss; (2) weight loss into a nonobese BMI category (BMI < 30 kg/m); and (3) predictors of %TBW change via quantile regression. RESULTS: Of those with class 2 or 3 obesity, 24.2% and 27.8%, respectively, lost at least 5% TBW. Only 3.2% and 0.2% of patients with class 2 and 3 obesity, respectively, lost enough weight to attain a BMI < 30 kg/m. In quantile regression, the median weight change for the population was a net gain of 2.5% TBW. CONCLUSIONS: Although adults with severe obesity were more likely to lose at least 5% TBW compared with overweight patients and patients with class 1 obesity, sufficient weight loss to attain a nonobese weight class was very uncommon. The pattern of ongoing weight gain found in our study population requires solutions at societal and health systems levels.

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