Background: Changes in the prevalence of obesity of surgical patients overtime and in relation to the general population have not been well characterized. Methods: Height, weight, age and gender data of adult patients who underwent general anesthesia at our institution were abstracted. Reliable data was available for the years 1989-1991 and 2006-2008, and comparisons were made between these epochs. Additional comparisons were made between our Minnesota surgical patients and the general Minnesota population. Results: Substantial changes in patient weight occurred with a decline in normal weight patients (body mass index [BMI] ≤ 25.0) from 41.6% to 30.9% (P < 0.001), while the prevalence of obesity (BMI 30-34.9) increased from 14.9% to 20.6% (P < 0.001) and morbidly obesity (BMI > 35) from 7.1% to 14.8% (P < 0.001). Minnesota surgical patients had a higher prevalence of obesity in every demographic category (P < 0.001) compared to the general population. Conclusion: A substantial increase in the prevalence of obesity and morbid obesity among surgical patients at our institution occurred and the prevalence of obesity in our contemporary practice is higher than the general population. These observations most likely have profound implications on healthcare delivery resources, though its impact has yet to be determined.
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