Geographic Variation in Obesity, Behavioral Treatment, and Bariatric Surgery for Veterans

November, 2018

This paper explores geographic differences in veterans’prevalence of obesity, weight management programs and bariatric surgery.


This study aims to describe geographic variation in veterans’ prevalence of obesity, participation in Veterans Health Administration’s behavioral weight management program (MOVE!), and receipt of bariatric surgery in fiscal year (FY) 2016. In this retrospective cohort study of veterans with obesity who received Veterans Health Administration care in FY2016, electronic health record data were obtained on weight, height, outpatient visits to the MOVE! program, and bariatric surgeries. For each Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) region, the prevalence rate of veterans with obesity (BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2), MOVE! participation rates, and bariatric surgery rates are presented. The prevalence of obesity in veterans ranged from 30.5% to 40.5% across VISNs in FY2016. MOVE! participation among veterans with obesity was low (2.8%‐6.9%) across all VISNs, but veterans with class II and III obesity (BMI ≥ 35) had higher MOVE! participation rates (4.3%‐10.8%) than veterans with class I obesity. There was 20‐fold variation across VISNs in receipt of bariatric surgery among veterans with BMI ≥ 35, ranging from 0.01% to 0.2%. Among veterans with BMI ≥ 35 participating in MOVE!, there was 46‐fold variation in bariatric surgery provision, ranging from 0.07% to 3.27%. Despite veterans’ high prevalence of obesity, behavioral and surgical weight management participation is low and varies across regions.

Full Reference

Maciejewski, M. L., Arterburn, D. E., Berkowitz, T. S. Z., Weidenbacher, H. J., Liu, C.-F., Olsen, M. K., Funk, L. M., Mitchell, J. E. and Smith, V. A., 2018. Geographic Variation in Obesity, Behavioral Treatment, and Bariatric Surgery for Veterans. Obesity, 27(1).

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