Primary care screening for childhood obesity: A population-based analysis

Joseph Meyerovitch, Ran D. Goldman, Herman Avner-Cohen, Felice Antebi, Michael Sherf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The prevalence of obesity among children and adolescents in the western world has increased dramatically. Objectives: To assess the efficacy of routine childhood obesity screening by primary physicians in the pediatric population in Israel and the utilization of health services by overweight children. Methods: The electronic medical records of children aged 60-83 months registered in 39 pediatric primary care centers between January 2001 and October 2004 (n=21,799) were reviewed. Those in whom height and weight were documented during a clinic visit (index visit) were classified as overweight, at risk of overweight, or normal weight according to body mass index percentiles. The number of visits to the pediatrician, laboratory tests and health care costs 12 months after the index visit were calculated. Results: Anthropomorphic measurements were performed in 1556 of the 15,364 children (10.1%) who visited the clinic during the study period. Of these, 398 (25.6%) were overweight, 185 (11.9%) were at risk of overweight, and 973 (62.5%) were normal weight. Children in the first two groups visited the clinic slightly more often than the third group, but the differences were not statistically significant (P = 0. 12), and they had significantly more laboratory tests than the rest of the children visiting the clinics (P = 0,053). Health care costs were 6.6% higher for the overweight than the normal-weight children. Conclusions: Electronic medical records are a useful tool for population-based health care assessments. Current screening for obesity in children during routine care in Israel is insufficient and additional education of community pediatricians in diagnosis and intervention is urgently needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)782-786
Number of pages5
JournalIsrael Medical Association Journal
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Body mass index
  • Children
  • Electronic medical records
  • Obesity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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