Recognition of childhood overweight during health supervision visits: Does BMI help pediatricians?

Sarah E. Barlow, Sonal R. Bobra, Michael B. Elliott, Ross C. Brownson, Debra Haire-Joshu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


Objective: To assess, in diverse pediatric practices, the frequency of overweight/obesity (OW/OB) identification during health supervision visits and its association with BMI curve use. Research Methods and Procedures: Pediatricians in public and private practice in St. Louis, MO, participated in a study of the care of chronic conditions during health supervision visits. Requested information from 30 visits per pediatrician of children 6 to 17 years of age included the visit note, the growth chart, and a one-page questionnaire about patient demographics and visit content. Pediatricians indicated the presence and discussion of common chronic conditions, including OW/OB. Identification was compared with patient BMI category, and associations between identification and patient and visit characteristics, including BMI curve use, were examined. Results: Twenty-one (40%) of contacted pediatricians returned information from 557 visits. Pediatricians identified OW/OB in 27% of children with a BMI at the 85th to 94th percentile and 86% of children with a BMI at or above the 95th percentile. Identification was higher in adolescents but was not associated with patient sex or race, practice setting, insurance type, or visit length. Only 41% of growth charts were current, and 6.1% had BMI plotted. BMI plotting was associated with OW/OB identification when the BMI was at the 85th to 94th percentile but not when the BMI was at or above the 95th percentile. After controlling for BMI percentile, OW/OB identification was significantly associated with diet counseling (odds ratio, 7.46; 95% confidence interval, 3.42 to 16.24) and exercise counseling (odds ratio, 5.57; 95% confidence interval, 2.61 to 11.90). Discussion: Despite low BMI curve use, pediatricians recognized most overweight/obese children with a BMI at or above the 95th percentile. BMI plotting may increase recognition in mildly overweight children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages1
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2007


  • Adolescent
  • Diet counseling
  • Exercise counseling
  • Growth chart
  • Physician practice behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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