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The Effect of BMI Advising on Weight Loss

1 August 2012


Background: 33.8% of Americans are obese, and this is a growing number. However, a number of obese persons do not perceive themselves to be obese and many more under-report their weight. Furthermore, an even larger number of obese persons’ weight is not acknowledged by their physician, nor are they given a diagnosis of obesity. This review examines the effects of the simple tool of BMI on weight loss.

Method: An exhaustive search of available medical literature was performed using Medline (OVID), CINAHL, EBMRmultifile, and Web of Science using obesity, perception, and weight loss as key words. BMI, counseling, and physician advice were then added to refine the search. A modified form of the GRADE tool was used to evaluate the articles.

Results: The search resulted in 243 articles. After duplicates and unrelated articles were excluded, six articles that meet the search criteria remained and were included in the review. The intervention was physician acknowledgement of weight status based on BMI. The primary outcome was report of weight loss. Overall, those patients who recalled a weight discussion with their physician were between 138% and 171% more likely to report weight loss, as compared to those who did not recall a weight discussion. The quality of three studies was moderate, and the other three studies was low.

Conclusion: Use of BMI advice is fast. It appears to have a positive effect on patients’ attempts to lose weight, although the quality of the evidence is moderate to low. More stringent studies that remove confounding variables and biases should be conducted. In the meantime, however, patients should be made aware of and educated about BMI.

Keywords: BMI, counseling, obesity, perception, physician advice, weight loss


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