Quarter of Scots patients have ‘never had BMI measured by doctor’

A quarter of people in Scotland have never had their body mass index recorded by their doctor as a study of 2.8 million UK adults showed higher BMI was directly linked with increased risk of death and serious health problems.

A high BMI has been linked with an increased risk of death and serious health problems.
A high BMI has been linked with an increased risk of death and serious health problems.

The new estimates, being presented at this year’s European Congress on Obesity (ECO) in Glasgow, indicate that adults with severe obesity class III (BMI of 40-45kg/m2) are 12 times as likely to develop type 2 diabetes, and are at 22 times greater risk of sleep apnoea than their normal weight peers. Those individuals with obesity class I (30-35kg/m2) are at 70 per cent higher risk of developing heart failure.

The risk of developing serious health problems was highly dependent on whether or not individuals had co-morbidities at the start of the study.

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For example, a history of any cardiovascular event doubled the risk of unstable angina/heart attack, stroke, and heart failure.

The size of this study, as well as the ability to consider 12 different serious health outcomes in a single-population representative cohort in the UK makes this study different from anything that’s been previously done, researchers say.

In a further study presented at the conference involving the University of Glasgow, the authors conducted a review of the health records of 77,591 adults aged 16 years and over from 12 general practices covering a broadly socio-economically representative sample of the Scottish population.

The BMI fields of records were searched for any BMI recording, with a specific interest in any measurements taken during the previous two years.

The researchers found that a BMI had at one point been recorded in 75 per cent of individuals, while less than a third (31 per cent) of patients had a recent BMI measurement (that was less than two years old).

Up-to-date BMI recording rates also varied significantly across practices from 20 per cent to 42 per cent, although the team noted a marked rise in recording rates over the two-year review period.

The authors conclude: “More complete current routine BMI data is required for accurate planning and provision of weight management services. Under-reporting may hinder stated public health aims of early detection and intervention of type 2 diabetes.

“It is important to monitor the quality of data in electronic health records given their increasing use as a source in research and to estimate variation between real life prevalence rates and national health survey rates.”