Tools for obesity diagnosis in adults

Obesity remains underdiagnosed and undertreated.1


Only 55% of people with obesity receive a formal diagnosis, and even fewer receive long-term obesity care1

Graph depicting the percent of people with obesity seeking and receiving long-term care

Diagnosing your patients with obesity using the following protocols recommended by AACE/ACE2:

Evaluation icon


  • Medical history
  • Physical examination
  • Clinical laboratory
  • Review of systems, emphasizing obesity-related complications
  • Obesity history
    • Chart weight vs age
    • Lifestyle patterns and preferences
    • Previous interventions
Icon of measuring tape

Anthropometric diagnosis

  • Confirm elevated BMI represents excess adiposity
  • Measure waist circumference to evaluate cardiometabolic disease risk
Icon of magnifying glass with plus sign

Clinical diagnosis

  • Normal weight: <25 kg/m2‡
  • Overweight: 25 kg/m2–29.9 kg/m2
  • Obesity: ≥30 kg/m2
  • Evaluate checklist of obesity-related complications

Or <23 kg/m2 in certain ethnicities with waist circumference below regional/ethnic cutoffs.

Weight-loss profile tool, a risk assessment tool

Risk assessment tool

This tool can help you assess the risks weight-related comorbidities pose to your patients and plan a course of action to help alleviate these conditions through long-term weight management.

Use the tool

Case Studies

BMI 32
BMI 32
BMI 31
BMI 34


Age: 36
BMI: 32 kg/m2

Man smiling (actor portrayal)

Prediabetes diagnosis

2 years ago, routine blood work showed Carl’s blood glucose level was within the prediabetes range.

Healthy eating and exercise can help

To improve his weight and his blood glucose level, Carl began eating healthier foods and joined a gym.

Severe pain in right knee

At his most recent yearly physical, Carl experiences sharp pain in his right knee, which has begun to limit his activities. Carl receives a diagnosis of osteoarthritis in his right knee. He is offered therapeutic and surgical options, but he has concerns about the required time and physical therapy.

This isn’t working

His BMI continues to slowly increase, his blood glucose level hasn't improved, and his knee pain has only gotten worse. Carl and his physician agree that his obesity may be what is driving his other comorbidities.

What are the next steps?

If healthier eating habits and exercise aren't enough, what other options are available to help Carl manage his weight?


Man smiling with hands on hips (actor portrayal)


Age: 41
BMI: 31 kg/m2

Woman smile (actor portrayal)

Expanding the family

Monica and her husband have 2 children. She gained a significant amount of weight during her 2 pregnancies and is having trouble losing weight and keeping it off.

Regularly irregular

Her menstrual cycle has never been regular, but Monica has noticed her periods have become longer and more irregular since her weight gain. After consulting with her OB/GYN, having blood tests, and an ultrasound performed, Monica is diagnosed with PCOS.

Lifestyle modification

Her OB/GYN also stressed that lifestyle modification could help with weight management.

This isn’t working

Eight months later, Monica hasn’t been able to manage her weight and continues to struggle with her PCOS symptoms. Monica and her OB/GYN agree that diet changes and exercise aren't helping her lose weight.

What are the next steps?

What other options are available to help Monica manage her weight?


Woman in dress standing and smiling (actor portrayal)


Age: 52
BMI: 34 kg/m2

Woman in yellow smiling (actor portrayal)

Unsurprising story

Tracy has struggled with weight loss and regain for more than 2 decades. Despite her obesity, she never had any underlying comorbidities.

The inevitable happens

At her most recent checkup, she was diagnosed with dyslipidemia, prediabetes, and high blood pressure.

Race to lose weight

Reluctant to take medicines for her newly diagnosed complications, Tracy begins an aggressive lifestyle modification program of strict diet and intensive exercise.

Still doesn’t take

While Tracy reached the weight-loss goals she set with her physician, the weight slowly returned. Now she is taking several medications to manage her weight-related comorbidities.

What are the next steps?

Desperate to manage her weight and improve her comorbidities, what other options are available to Tracy?


Woman in yellow standing and smiling (actor portrayal)
Download of clinical overview of the AACE/ACE obesity guidelines

AACE/ACE guidelines

Access clinical practice guidelines for the management of obesity.


Start the conversation


Pharmacotherapy may help some patients sustain weight loss



1. Kaplan LM, Golden A, Jinnett K, et al. Perceptions of barriers to effective obesity care: results from the National ACTION Study. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2018;26(1):61-69.

2. Garvey WT, Mechanick JI, Brett EM, et al. American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists and American College of Endocrinology comprehensive clinical practice guidelines for medical care of patients with obesity. Endocr Pract. 2016;22(suppl 3):1-203.


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