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Obes Res. 2003 Nov;11(11):1313-24.

Economic analysis of a school-based obesity prevention program.

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  • 1Division of Adolescent and School Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4770 Buford Highway, MS K-33, Chamblee, GA 30341, USA.



To assess the cost-effectiveness and cost-benefit of Planet Health, a school-based intervention designed to reduce obesity in youth of middle-school age children.


Standard cost-effectiveness analysis methods and a societal perspective were used in this study. Three categories of costs were measured: intervention costs, medical care costs associated with adulthood overweight, and costs of productivity loss associated with adulthood overweight. Health outcome was measured as cases of adulthood overweight prevented and quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) saved. Cost-effectiveness ratio was measured as the ratio of net intervention costs to the total number of QALYs saved, and net-benefit was measured as costs averted by the intervention minus program costs.


Under base-case assumptions, at an intervention cost of $33,677 or $14 US dollars per student per year, the program would prevent an estimated 1.9% of the female students (5.8 of 310) from becoming overweight adults. As a result, an estimated 4.1 QALYs would be saved by the program, and society could expect to save an estimated $15,887 USD in medical care costs and $25,104 USD in loss of productivity costs. These findings translated to a cost of $4305 USD per QALY saved and a net saving of $7313 USD to society. Results remained cost-effective under all scenarios considered and remained cost-saving under most scenarios.


The Planet Health program is cost-effective and cost-saving as implemented. School-based prevention programs of this type are likely to be cost-effective uses of public funds and warrant careful consideration by policy makers and program planners.

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