Relationship between body mass index and the use of healthcare services in Australia.

Reidpath, DD; Crawford, D; Tilgner, L; Gibbons, C; (2002) Relationship between body mass index and the use of healthcare services in Australia. Obesity research, 10 (6). pp. 526-31. ISSN 1071-7323 DOI:

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OBJECTIVE: To examine the relationship between body mass index (BMI) and the use of medical and preventive health services. RESEARCH METHODS AND PROCEDURES: This study involved secondary analysis of weighted data from the Australian 1995 National Health Survey. The study was a population survey designed to obtain national benchmark information about a range of health-related issues. Data were available from 17,033 men and 17,174 women, > or =20 years or age. BMI, based on self-reported weight and height, was analyzed in relation to the use of medical services and preventive health services. RESULTS: A positive relationship was found between BMI and medical service use, such as medication use, visits to hospital accident and emergency departments (for women only); doctor visits, visits to a hospital outpatient clinics; and visits to other health professionals (for women only). A negative relationship was found in women between BMI and preventive health services. Underweight women were found to be significantly less likely to have Papanicolaou smear tests, breast examinations, and mammograms. DISCUSSION: This research shows that people who fall outside the healthy weight range are more likely to use a range of medical services. Given that the BMI of industrialized populations appears to be increasing, this has important ramifications for health service planning and reinforces the need for obesity prevention strategies at a population level.

Item Type: Article
Faculty and Department: Faculty of Public Health and Policy > Dept of Health Services Research and Policy
PubMed ID: 12055329
Web of Science ID: 177241700014


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