Heavier Patients Not Found to Receive Inferior Care

On some measures, obesity and overweight linked to slightly higher rates of recommended care
By Eric Metcalf
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, April 6 (HealthDay News) -- Obese and overweight patients don't appear to receive inferior care compared with normal-weight patients across a variety of performance measures, although being overweight or obese is associated with a slightly higher rate of recommended care on some measures, according to research published in the April 7 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Virginia W. Chang, M.D., of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia, and colleagues analyzed data from 36,122 Medicare beneficiaries and 33,550 individuals receiving care from the Veterans Health Administration. They included eight quality measures for outpatient preventive services related to diabetes management, cancer screening, and adult vaccinations.

The researchers didn't find evidence that overweight or obese patients were less likely to receive recommended care compared to patients with a normal weight. In fact, success rates were marginally higher for overweight and/or obese patients on several measures. Among the Medicare beneficiaries, obese patients with diabetes were more likely to have recommended care for lipid screenings than normal-weight patients (72 versus 65 percent), as well as glycated hemoglobin testing (74 versus 62 percent).

"Although the prevention of obesity is considered a public health priority, the majority of U.S. adults are already overweight or obese, so it is equally vital to ensure that these patients receive equitable and effective treatment," the authors conclude. "Being obese or overweight was associated with marginally higher rates of recommended care for several measures. While it may be true that physicians often harbor negative attitudes toward obesity, such attitudes may not be borne out in lower quality of care."

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