The cost of investigating weight-related comorbidities in children and adolescents in Aotearoa/New Zealand
Karalus MA., Sullivan TA., Wild CE., Cave TL., O'Sullivan NA., Hofman PL., Edwards EA., Mouat S., Wong W., Anderson YC.
Aim: Expert recommendations for child/adolescent obesity include extensive investigation for weight-related comorbidities, based on body mass index (BMI) percentile cut-offs. This study aimed to estimate the cost of initial investigations for weight-related comorbidities in children/adolescents with obesity, according to international expert guidelines. Methods: The annual mean cost of investigations for weight-related comorbidities in children/adolescents was calculated from a health-funder perspective using 2019 cost data obtained from three New Zealand District Health Boards. Prevalence data for child/adolescent obesity (aged 2–14 years) were obtained from the New Zealand Health Survey (2017/2018), and prevalence of weight-related comorbidities requiring further investigation were obtained from a previous New Zealand study of a cohort of children with obesity. Results: The cost of initial laboratory screening for weight-related comorbidities per child was NZD 28.36. Based on national prevalence data from 2018/2019 for children with BMI greater than the 98th percentile (obesity cut-off), the total annual cost for initial laboratory screening for weight-related comorbidities in children/adolescents aged 2–14 years with obesity was estimated at NZD 2,665,840. The cost of further investigation in the presence of risk factors was estimated at NZD 2,972,934. Conclusions: Investigating weight-related comorbidities in New Zealand according to international expert guidelines is resource-intensive. Ways to further determine who warrants investigation with an individualised approach are required.