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Abstract Objectives To determine the most cost-effective weight management programmes (WMPs) for adults, in England with severe obesity (BMI ≥ 35 kg/m2), who are more at risk of obesity related diseases. Methods An economic evaluation of five different WMPs: 1) low intensity (WMP1); 2) very low calorie diets (VLCD) added to WMP1; 3) moderate intensity (WMP2); 4) high intensity (Look AHEAD); and 5) Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB) surgery, all compared to a baseline scenario representing no WMP. We also compare a VLCD added to WMP1 vs. WMP1 alone. A microsimulation decision analysis model was used to extrapolate the impact of changes in BMI, obtained from a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of WMPs and bariatric surgery, on long-term risks of obesity related disease, costs, quality adjusted life years (QALYs) and incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICERs) measured as incremental cost per QALY gained over a 30-year time horizon from a UK National Health Service (NHS) perspective. Sensitivity analyses explored the impact of long-term weight regain assumptions on results. Results RYGB was the most costly intervention but also generated the lowest incidence of obesity related disease and hence the highest QALY gains. Base case ICERs for WMP1, a VLCD added to WMP1, WMP2, Look AHEAD, and RYGB compared to no WMP were £557, £6628, £1540, £23,725 and £10,126 per QALY gained respectively. Adding a VLCD to WMP1 generated an ICER of over £121,000 per QALY compared to WMP1 alone. Sensitivity analysis found that all ICERs were sensitive to the modelled base case, five year post intervention cessation, weight regain assumption. Conclusions RYGB surgery was the most effective and cost-effective use of scarce NHS funding resources. However, where fixed healthcare budgets or patient preferences exclude surgery as an option, a standard 12 week behavioural WMP (WMP1) was the next most cost-effective intervention.

Original publication




Journal article


International Journal of Obesity


Springer Science and Business Media LLC

Publication Date