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Cost-Effectiveness of a Workplace-Based Incentivized Weight Loss Program

Lahiri, Supriya PhD; Faghri, Pouran D. MD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: March 2012 - Volume 54 - Issue 3 - p 371–377
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e318247a394
Original Articles

Objective: To evaluate the cost-effectiveness ratios of a nursing home–based incentivized Behavioral Weight Management Program (BWMP) from the employer's perspective.

Methods: Seventy-two overweight and obese health care workers completed the BWMP (n = 35 incentivized; n = 37 nonincentivized). Weight change outcomes were compared for the pre- (0) and postintervention (28 weeks) follow-up periods within and between sites. Comprehensive estimates of BWMP direct program costs and avoided costs of absenteeism and productivity improvements were estimated to evaluate a business case.

Results: There was a significant difference (P = 0.01) between the average per-participant weight change between incentivized sites (−7.4 lb) and nonincentivized sites (−2.2 lb). The cost-effectiveness ratios per pound of weight loss were $25.5 and $58.1, respectively.

Conclusions: In general, incentivized BWMPs were more cost effective. To generate a business case, enhancement in productivity becomes a critical factor and future research needs to investigate it further.

From the Department of Economics (Dr Lahiri), University of Massachusetts Lowell, Lowell, Mass; and Department of Allied Health Sciences (Dr Faghri), University of Connecticut, Storrs, Conn.

Address correspondence to: Supriya Lahiri, PhD, Department of Economics, University of Massachusetts Lowell, One University Ave, Lowell, MA 01854 (

This project was funded through the cooperative agreement between the CDC and APTR: TS-1444-CDC-APTR Cooperative Agreement. Dr Faghri was the principal investigator and responsible for design, implementation, data collection, and analysis; Dr. Lahiri was the coinvestigator and responsible for the economic analysis of the entire study.

The authors declare that they have no financial or commercial interests including consultation, investments, stock equity, ownership, stock options, patent licensing arrangement, or payment for conducting or publicizing the study.

©2012The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine