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Obesity Week 2013

Medically supervised weight loss is cost effective

The decrease in expense is strongly correlated with the degree of weight loss

Medically supervised weight loss is not only an effective option, but it can reduce medication costs by up to US$215.00 per month for patients with diabetes, claimed a study presented Clay Wiske, medical researcher at Brown University. The average adult affected by obesity incurs on averageUS$2,714 more in healthcare costs when compared with non-obese adults.

The research showed that medically supervised patients lost an average of 44lbs after 16-24 weeks of treatment, leading to an average decrease in the cost of medications by US$73 a month. Most notably, for those with a diagnosis of diabetes, the decrease was US$214.91; hyperlipidemia US$123.87; hypertension US$107.21; and, GERD US$81.19. The research was presented at the 30th Annual Meeting for the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) during ObesityWeek 2013, the largest international event focused on the basic science, clinical application and prevention and treatment of obesity. The event was hosted by the ASMBS and The Obesity Society (TOS).

“There’s no doubt: medically supervised weight loss reduces the need for medication and the associated costs,” said Wiske. “The decrease in medication expense is tied closely to the degree of weight loss: meaning the more weight patients lose, the less they will spend on medication. Insurers should take note of this cost savings; it’s an impetus for covering medically supervised weight loss.”

The study, ‘Cost Effectiveness of Medically Supervised Weight Loss’, is a retrospective study of 589 patients who participated in a medically supervised multidisciplinary behavioural weight management programme for 16-24 weeks. All changes to medications were made based on clinical guidelines. Monthly wholesale medication expenses were calculated using national data.

Results

On average the wholesale monthly cost of medications decreased by US$72.85 by the end of treatment (95% CI 63.18, 85.77). Notably, for those with a diagnosis of diabetes, the decrease was US$214.91 (95% CI 169.91, 261.42); hyperlipidemia, US$123.87 (95% CI 102.69, 146.73); hypertension, US$107.21 (95% CI 86.53, 131.72); GERD, US$81.19 (95% CI 65.40, 97.57).

A multivariate linear model adjusted for physician visits demonstrated that total weight loss, number of nutrition and exercise counselling sessions attended, previous diagnosis of hypertension and hyperlipidemia, as well as number of initial medications were all positively correlated (p<0.05) with percent decrease in monthly wholesale medication costs.

The researchers concluded that weight loss in a medically supervised setting reduces medication burden and associated cost. Furthermore, the decrease in expense is strongly correlated with the degree of weight loss.

“Obesity is one of the most complex, chronic medical conditions,” said Dr Adam Tsai of the University of Colorado and The Obesity Society (TOS) Public Affairs Chair. “Successful treatment often requires the support and guidance of professionals. It’s clear from this and other studies that there are considerable health and economic benefits when individuals with obesity lose substantial amounts of weight.”

To access all the abstracts from Obesity Week 2013, please click here

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American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery

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