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Study links patients living in disadvantaged areas to inadequate screening for obesity

MU researchers are exploring how a person’s address and socioeconomic disadvantages increase their risk for the disease.

woman and her doctor

Patients at highest risk for obesity were most likely to have missing body mass index data.

Sept. 28, 2020

More than 35% of adults in Missouri are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Researchers from the University of Missouri School of Medicine and MU Health Care discovered how a tool called the Area Deprivation Index can predict a person’s obesity risk based on his or her home address. The study also discovered those at highest risk for obesity were most likely to have missing body mass index data in their health records, indicating inadequate obesity monitoring.

“This evidence-based data has the potential to help primary care physicians identify patients who lack the experience of being a self-advocate to ensure the health care they need,” said Lincoln Sheets, MD, PhD, assistant research professor at the MU School of Medicine.

Based on study data, Sheets said that people who were at the highest risk for obesity were not getting screened for it as much as they should be. When doctors use the index, it will allow them to reliably gauge obesity risk by plugging in the patient’s address.

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