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Obes Rev. 2012 Jun;13(6):537-53. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-789X.2011.00980.x. Epub 2012 Jan 17.

The long-term cost-effectiveness of obesity prevention interventions: systematic literature review.

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Department for Medical Sociology and Health Economics, Hamburg Center for Health Economics, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany.


Obesity prevention provides a major opportunity to improve population health. As health improvements usually require additional and scarce resources, novel health technologies (interventions) should be economically evaluated. In the prevention of obesity, health benefits may slowly accumulate over time and it can take many years before an intervention has reached full effectiveness. Decision-analytic simulation models (DAMs), which combine evidence from diverse sources, can be utilized to evaluate the long-term cost-effectiveness of such interventions. This literature review summarizes long-term economic findings (defined as ≥ 40 years) for 41 obesity prevention interventions, which had been evaluated in 18 cost-utility analyses, using nine different DAMs. Interventions were grouped according to their method of delivery, setting and risk factors targeted into behavioural (n=21), community (n=12) and environmental interventions (n=8). The majority of interventions offered good value for money, while seven were cost-saving. Ten interventions were not cost-effective (defined as >50,000 US dollar), however. Interventions that modified a target population's environment, i.e. fiscal and regulatory measures, reported the most favourable cost-effectiveness. Economic findings were accompanied by a large uncertainty though, which complicates judgments about the comparative cost-effectiveness of interventions.

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