Guest Post: ICD-10 Code Coming For Sarcopenic Obesity

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Today’s guest post comes for Carla Prado, PhD, Assistant Professor and CAIP Chair in Nutrition, Food and Health, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada

Although obesity is often conceived as excess fat mass, we now know that individuals with obesity may have normal, high or low muscle mass.

Low muscle mass (sarcopenia) is a debilitating condition associated with poor physical function, morbidity and mortality.

The simultaneous appearance of obesity and sarcopenia (sarcopenic obesity) is an emerging area of interest as its prevalence is at rise.

Importantly, sarcopenic obesity is the worst‐case scenario as both excess fat and low muscle mass have its own (and perhaps synergistic) metabolic and health‐related consequences.

As a “hidden condition”, sarcopenia in individuals with obesity is undetectable by use of body weight or body mass index.

The need for sophisticated measurements of body composition has limited our ability to fully understand this condition, as well as to establish preventive and treatment strategies, limiting the translation between research and clinical practice.

This is about to change.

As of October 1st, 2016, sarcopenia will have its own diagnostic code (ICD‐10 code). The World Health Organization International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD) is a standard tool used to report diagnosis and in‐patient procedures.

Hopefully, this will mean that the official record and identification of sarcopenia in medical records will improve our understanding of the epidemiology, health management and treatment of this condition.

According to the Aging In Motion Coalition, the establishment of an ICD‐10 Code represents a major recognition of the importance of sarcopenia, removing barriers to treatment and research on several fronts.

Such barriers include awareness and attention, clear indications for treatment, and reimbursement.

We expect Canada will champion the study of sarcopenia and sarcopenic obesity with special calls for funding, advocacy and public awareness.

Carla Prado
Edmonton, AB