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Am J Health Promot. 2014 Jul-Aug;28(6):364-71. doi: 10.4278/ajhp.120207-QUAN-80.

Five-year medical and pharmacy costs after a medically supervised intensive treatment program for obesity.



The financial impact of intensive medical interventions for weight loss has not been fully studied.


A randomized pragmatic clinical trial.


Seven primary care clinics and one research center in Louisiana.


Severely obese individuals (body mass index 40-60 kg/m(2)) randomized to usual care (n = 190) or intensive medical management (n = 200). Forty-seven percent of participants completed year 2 follow-up and were included in the analyses.


Physician-monitored intervention with recommendations for 12 weeks of liquid diet followed by 4 months of group behavioral therapy, structured diet, and option of pharmacotherapy, and an additional 16 months of maintenance strategies.


Two-year preintervention and 5-year postintervention measures were computed from claims data and included (1) medical costs excluding pharmacy, (2) pharmacy costs only, (3) total medical and pharmacy costs, and (4) medical and pharmacy subcategory costs.


Differential categories for preintervention and postintervention were created using total sample 75th percentiles. Chi-square tests were employed to compare the intervention groups both preintervention and postintervention with respect to the proportion of subjects above the 75th percentile for each of the cost categories.


Medical costs excluding pharmacy did not differ between groups. The intensive medical intervention group had a significantly smaller percentage of subjects above the 75th percentile for pharmacy costs only (p = .0125), and for antidiabetic agents (p = .0464), antihypertensives (p = .0075), and dyslipidemic subcategories (p = .0197).


An intensive medical intervention may reduce pharmaceutical expenditures in severely obese individuals. These results must be viewed with caution given the high attrition of study participants.


Extreme Obesity, Medical Intervention, Cost Effectiveness/Cost Analysis, Health Care Utilization, Prevention Research. Manuscript format: research; Health focus: weight control; Outcome measure: medical and pharmacy claims expenditures; Research purpose: financial analysis/weight control; Setting: primary care clinics; Strategy: health care use, policy change; Study design: randomized pragmatic clinical trial; Target population age: adults; Target population circumstances: severely obese individuals (40–60 kg/m2)

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