Because of the clinical significance of obesity-related comorbidities, obesity is often not the primary diagnosis given to patients who seek care from their health care provider. Clinicians are typically more comfortable treating comorbid diseases that have a physiologic basis where medications are readily available and have demonstrated efficacy. Educating physicians about treating and coding for obesity is a critical aspect of any obesity management initiative.
The following chart shows the relationship between obesity and its impact on the relative risk of developing the most common obesity-related chronic conditions. For example, for an adult who is overweight, the likelihood of developing diabetes is 1.52 times greater than an individual with a weight in the normal range – and for an individual with obesity, the likelihood increases to 3.43 times greater. Each of these comorbid conditions can be associated with a significant increase in health care expenditures.