DURHAM, N.C. In a cost-effectiveness analysis of commercial diet programs and pills, the Weight Watchers program and the drug Qsymia showed the best value for the money. The Jenny Craig regimen generated the greatest weight loss, but was also the most expensive option tested, according to researchers at Duke-National University of Singapore (NUS) Graduate Medical School.
The findings, published in the June issue of the journal Obesity, provide important information on the health and weight-loss benefits per dollar spent as insurance carriers consider coverage for weight loss programs and drugs.
"The obesity epidemic is raising serious health and cost consequences, so employers and third-party payers are beginning to consider how to provide some coverage for commercial weight loss programs," said senior author Eric Finkelstein, Ph.D., professor at Duke-NUS and the Duke University Global Health Institute. "These results will help them make better purchasing decisions to maximize the health gains using available resources."
Finkelstein and research assistant Eliza Kruger first conducted a literature review to identify high-quality clinical trials of commercially available diet/lifestyle plans and medications with proven weight loss at one year or more. Weight loss was measured in terms of absolute change in kilograms lost compared to a control group in which patients underwent a low cost/low intensity intervention, or a placebo in the case of the pharmaceutical trials.
Three diet/lifestyle programs and three medications met the inclusion criteria for the cost-effectiveness analysis: Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig and VTrim, along with the diet pills Qsymia, Lorcaserin and Orlistat.
Several meal replacement products were excluded despite showing some weight loss success -- including Medifast, Optifast and Slimfast because they did not meet one or more inclusion criteria. Weight-loss surgery was also excluded.<
|Contact: Sarah Avery|
Duke University Medical Center