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Is Medically Supervised Weight Loss for Obesity Cost Effective?



New Study Unveiled at ObesityWeekSM Shows Dramatic Cost Decreases Following Treatment

ATLANTA, Nov. 14, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Obesity is a serious disease that is tied to more than 30 other health conditions, which often require multiple medications for treatment - adding to the already high cost of healthcare. Today, according to a 2012 study published in the Journal of Health Economics, the average adult affected by obesity incurs on average $2,714 more in healthcare costs when compared with non-obese adults.[i] Efforts to address obesity through modern medicine are becoming increasingly popular, and new research presented at The Obesity Society (TOS) Annual Meeting at ObesityWeekSM 2013 shows medically supervised weight loss is not only an effective option, but it can reduce medication costs by up to $215.00 per month for patients with diabetes.

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Today, Clay Wiske, medical researcher at Brown University, presents research that shows medically supervised patients lost an average of 44 pounds after 16-24 weeks of treatment, leading to an average decrease in the cost of medications by $73 a month. Most notably, for those with a diagnosis of diabetes, the decrease was $214.91; hyperlipidemia, $123.87; hypertension, $107.21; and, GERD, $81.19.

"There's no doubt: medically supervised weight loss reduces the need for medication and the associated costs," said Mr. 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 behavioral weight management program for 16-24 weeks. All changes to medications were made based on clinical guidelines. Monthly wholesale medication expenses were calculated using national data.

"Obesity is one of the most complex, chronic medical conditions," said Adam Tsai, MD, 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."

In May 2013, TOS launched the Treat Obesity Seriously campaign with the goal of encouraging the treatment of obesity as a serious disease. The website also features a newly launched Obesity Pledge for supporters to sign and share.

"We're working to help providers and policymakers better understand obesity, its causes, effects and treatments," said Dr. Tsai. "And, we're encouraging everyone at ObesityWeekSM and around the globe to join us in signing the Obesity Pledge. If we can show how important it is to treat obesity seriously, we will be one step closer to guiding to those affected toward the right solutions."

Find more information about the research here and to sign the pledge visit

About The Obesity Society The Obesity Society (TOS) is the leading professional society dedicated to better understanding, preventing and treating obesity. Through research, education and advocacy, TOS is committed to improving the lives of those affected by the disease. For more information visit:

About ObesityWeek ObesityWeekSM is the largest, international event focused on the basic science, clinical application, and prevention and treatment of obesity. TOS and the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) host the world's pre-eminent conference on obesity, ObesityWeekSM 2013, Nov. 11-16, at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia. For the first time, both organizations hold their respective annual scientific meetings under one roof to unveil exciting new research, discuss emerging treatment and prevention options, and network and present with leaders in the field.

[i] Cawley, John & Meyerhoefer, Chad, 2012. "The medical care costs of obesity: An instrumental variables approach," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 219-230.

SOURCE The Obesity Society

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