Prevalence of overweight and obesity within primary care clinics in a public hospital system

Jamie S. Bodenlos, Department of Psychology, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisisana, USA.
Tracie M. Bellanger
Glenn N. Jones


OBJECTIVE: The prevalence of obesity is especially high in low-income minority individuals, many of whom lack health insurance. The goal of the current study was to establish the prevalence of obesity in the primary care clinics at a public hospital that serves predominantly African-American indigent patients and to compare this prevalence to the national norm. RESEARCH METHODS: Information from 845 patients attending four outpatient clinics was obtained via retrospective chart reviews. Age, gender, race, weight, and height were obtained, and body mass index (BMI) was calculated. RESULTS: Eighty-four percent of patients were overweight or obese. The 20% prevalence of extreme obesity was especially high. The primary care clinics had more than twice the rate of obesity as the national norm, even when controlling for demographic characteristics. DISCUSSION: Socioeconomic status and/or cultural influences are likely factors in the higher rate of obesity in this population. Because of this markedly elevated prevalence of obesity, especially extreme obesity, the need for intervention is critical.