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U.S. Preventive Services Task Force

Screening for and Management of Obesity in Adults

Clinical Summary of U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation

Population Adults aged 18 years or older
Recommendation Screen for obesity. Patients with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 kg/m2 or higher should be offered or referred to intensive, multicomponent behavioral interventions. Grade: B
Screening Tests Body mass index is calculated from the measured weight and height of an individual. Recent evidence suggests that waist circumference may be an acceptable alternative to BMI measurement in some patient subpopulations.
Timing of Screening No evidence was found about appropriate intervals for screening.
Interventions Intensive, multicomponent behavioral interventions for obese adults include the following components:
  • Behavioral management activities, such as setting weight-loss goals
  • Improving diet or nutrition and increasing physical activity
  • Addressing barriers to change
  • Self-monitoring
  • Strategizing how to maintain lifestyle changes
Balance of Harms and Benefits Adequate evidence indicates that intensive, multicomponent behavioral interventions for obese adults can lead to weight loss, as well as improved glucose tolerance and other physiologic risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

Inadequate evidence was found about the effectiveness of these interventions on long-term health outcomes (for example, mortality, cardiovascular disease, and hospitalizations).

Adequate evidence indicates that the harms of screening and behavioral interventions for obesity are small. Possible harms of behavioral weight-loss interventions include decreased bone mineral density and increased fracture risk, serious injuries resulting from increased physical activity, and increased risk for eating disorders.
Other Relevant USPSTF Recommendations Recommendations on screening for obesity in children and adolescents can be found at http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org.

For a summary of the evidence systematically reviewed in making these recommendations, the full recommendation statement, and supporting documents, please go to http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org.

Disclaimer: Recommendations made by the USPSTF are independent of the U.S. government. They should not be construed as an official position of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

AHRQ Publication No. 11-05159-EF-3
Current as of June 2012

Internet Citation:

U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Screening for and Management of Obesity in Adults: Clinical Summary of U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation. AHRQ Publication No. 11-05159-EF-3. June 2012. http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf11/obeseadult/obesesum.htm


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