Cost-effectiveness of diet and exercise interventions to reduce overweight and obesity
International Journal of Obesity, 01/12/2011
Exclusive author commentary
Forster M et al. – Diet and exercise interventions to reduce obesity are potentially cost–effective but have a negligible impact on the total body weight–related disease burden.
Dr JL Veerman (01/12/2011) comments:
In this study we show that two diet and exercise programmes offer quite good value for money. However, that becomes doubtful if we also include the time and travel costs participants have to make to attend the meetings. The cost-effectiveness of diet and exercise interventions is limited by the modest amount of weight that is lost (typically around 5-8.5 kg) and the short time in which it is regained. We also calculated the total disease burden over the lifetime of all Australians aged 30+ and estimate how much of this burden could be avoided by a national campaign to invite all overweight people to participate in these programmes once. The results were disappointing: less than 0.1% of the disease burden would be prevented. Just like reductions in the prevalence of smoking required more than help to addicted individuals, tackling the 'obesity epidemic' will likely require more than diet and exercise interventions and pills. Research should therefore also be conducted on interventions that change the 'obesogenic' environment and target whole populations rather than individuals. In a related article, we show that nutrition labelling and taxes on unhealthy foods are likely to offer excellent ‘value for money’ as obesity prevention measures.