A recent study assessed the lifetime health and economic impact of a scalable community weight loss program for overweight and obese adults. The study evaluated more than 30,000 at-risk adults who were participants of the Weigh and Win program, comparing their BMI improvement to chronic disease mitigation. The results showed an astounding 16:1 return on investment (ROI), on average, across all race and ethnicities, saving the insurance payer an impressive $47.3 million over the participant’s lifetime. The study, to be published in the December issue of Preventive Medicine, was facilitated by the University of Nebraska Medical Center, Virginia Tech, Kaiser Permanente Colorado and incentaHEALTH.

The study evaluated 33,656 Colorado adults enrolled in the community-implemented Weigh and Win program, between 2011-2014. All assessed were at least 18 years old with a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or greater. With an implementation cost of $2.88 million, the community-based weight loss intervention program was predicted to save $47.3 million in health care costs, averting a significant number of cases of coronary heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, colorectal cancer and breast cancer. The estimated medical cost saved per participant was $1,403 and the ROI was $16.7 for every $1 invested.  When extrapolated to the Colorado population level, approximately 5 million people, savings are estimated at $1 billion.

The average program weight loss duration was found to be 1.7 years across all races and ethnicities. When considering African American participants, this weight loss duration increased to two years and participants were more likely to achieve a clinically significant weight loss.

Abstract

This study assessed the lifetime health and economic consequences of an efficacious scalable community weight loss program for overweight and obese adults. We applied a state-transition Markov model to project lifetime economic outcome (US dollar) and the degree of disease averted as a result of a weight loss intervention, compared with no intervention, from a payer perspective. Effect sizes of the intervention on weight loss, by sex, race and ethnicity, and body mass index (BMI) of participants, were derived from a 12-month community program. Relative risk of diseases across BMI levels and other parameters were informed by the literature. A return on investment (ROI) analysis was conducted to present the overall cost-benefit of the program. Simulation results showed that among 33,656 participants and at a cost of $2.88 million, the program was predicted to avert (with a corresponding estimated medical costs saved of) 78 cases of coronary heart disease ($28 million), 9 cases of strokes ($971,832), 92 cases of type 2 diabetes ($24 million), 1 case of colorectal cancer ($357,022), and 3 cases of breast cancer ($483,259) over the participant lifetime. The estimated medical costs saved per participant was $1403 ($1077 of African American men and $1532 of Hispanic men), and the ROI was $16.7 ($12.8 for African American men and $18.3 for Hispanic men) for every $1 invested. We concluded that a scalable efficacious community weight loss program provides a cost-effective approach with significant ROI, which will assist informed decisions for future adoption and dissemination.

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Cost Effectiveness and Return on Investment of a Scalable Community Weight Loss Intervention In Press Preventive Medicine Dec 2017 Vol 105 pp 295 303