Many Obesity Interventions Cost-Effective in Long-Term

Most favorable cost-effectiveness for interventions which modify a population's environment

FRIDAY, Jan. 27 (HealthDay News) -- The majority of obesity prevention interventions are cost-effective in the long-term, with the most favorable interventions being those which modify a target population's environment, according to a review published online Jan. 17 in Obesity Reviews.

Thomas Lehnert, M.D., of the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf in Germany, and colleagues used nine decision-analytic simulation models to evaluate the long-term (40 years or more) cost-effectiveness of 41 obesity prevention interventions in 18 analyses. Interventions based on literature cost-analysis reviews were grouped into behavioral (21), community (12), and environmental (eight) categories.

The researchers found the majority of 31 preventive interventions for obesity to be cost-effective, costing less than $20,000 per quality-adjusted life year gained per disability-adjusted life year averted, and seven interventions were cost saving. Only 10 interventions were cost-ineffective (>$50,000), including all four school-based (community) programs reviewed. Seven of nine behavioral interventions that focused on lifestyle modifications were found cost-effective. The most favorable cost-effectiveness was seen for interventions which modified a target population's environment.

"The majority of studies included in this review considered future health care costs for obesity-related diseases only. Yet individuals may generate expenditures for the treatment of diseases unrelated to obesity or its comorbidities, e.g., falls in old age, in the life-years gained as a consequence of preventive measures. There is an ongoing debate if, and as to how, future health care cost of unrelated diseases should be included in cost-effectiveness analysis," the authors write.

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