Lower-cost Weight Loss Intervention Shows Promising Results, Says Study

July 11, 2012 02:30 pm News Staff

According to a study(jama.jamanetwork.com) in the June 27 issue of JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, a workable, cost-effective tool for weight loss may be available soon.

[Patient with measuring tape around waist]

The study, titled "Effect of a Stepped-Care Intervention Approach on Weight Loss in Adults A Randomized Clinical Trial," notes that although a standard behavioral weight loss intervention (SBWI) resulted in a greater mean weight loss at 18 months from baseline than the stepped-care intervention (STEP) under scrutiny, the STEP option "resulted in clinically meaningful weight loss that cost less to implement."

All of the study's 363 overweight and obese adult participants were placed on a low-calorie diet, prescribed increases in physical activity, and attended weekly to monthly group counseling sessions. The SBWI group was assigned to a fixed program, while counseling frequency and type and other weight loss strategies could be modified every three months for the STEP group depending on the achievement of specific weight loss goals at three-month intervals.

At the end of the study, the average weight loss was 8.1 percent, or 16.8 lbs. (7.6 kg) for the SBWI group, and STEP participants lost an average 6.9 percent of their body weight, or 13.7 lbs. (6.2 kg).

According to a JAMA release(media.jamanetwork.com), both groups also showed significant and comparable improvements in resting heart rate, blood pressure and fitness level, but the STEP program was much less expensive.

For payers, the mean cost per participant in the STEP group was $358, compared with $494 for the SBWI group. From the participants' perspective, the gap was even wider, with STEP participants spending an average of $427 versus the $863 spent by each SBWI participant.

All told, the researchers estimated that the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio for patients in the STEP group came to $127 per 2.2 lbs. (1 kg) of weight lost versus the $409 per 2.2 lbs. (1 kg) figure logged by those in the SBWI group.