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Obesity (Silver Spring). 2009 Dec;17(12):2176-81. doi: 10.1038/oby.2009.114. Epub 2009 Apr 23.

Changes in health state utilities with changes in body mass in the Diabetes Prevention Program.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA.


Health utilities are measures of health-related quality of life (HRQL) used in cost-effectiveness research. We evaluated whether changes in body weight were associated with changes in health utilities in the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) and whether associations differed by treatment assignment (lifestyle intervention, metformin, placebo) or baseline obesity severity. We constructed physical (PCS-36) and mental component summary (MCS-36) subscales and short-form-6D (SF-6D) health utility index for all DPP participants completing a baseline 36-item short form (SF-36) HRQL assessment (N = 3,064). We used linear regression to test associations between changes in body weight and changes in HRQL indicators, while adjusting for other demographic and behavioral variables. Overall differences in HRQL between treatment groups were highly statistically significant but clinically small after 1 year. In multivariable models, weight change was independently associated with change in SF-6D score (increase of 0.007 for every 5 kg weight loss; P < 0.001), but treatment effects independent of weight loss were not. We found no significant interaction between baseline obesity severity and changes in SF-6D with changes in body weight. However, increases in physical function (PCS-36) with weight loss were greater in persons with higher baseline obesity severity. In summary, improvements in HRQL are associated with weight loss but not with other effects of obesity treatments that are unrelated to weight loss. Although improvements in the SF-6D did not exceed commonly reported thresholds for a minimally important difference (0.04), these changes, if causal, could still have a significant impact on clinical cost-effectiveness estimates if sustained over multiple years.

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