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13-02-2012 | Cardiometabolic | Article

Long-term health gains not of primary value to patients undergoing obesity pharmacotherapy


Free abstract

MedWire News: Obese patients who are trying to lose weight place a high value on total weight loss and avoiding changes to their lifestyle, and much less value on reducing long-term health risk, show study findings.

This suggests that "interventions and behavioral change programs may prove more successful when focusing on the benefits of relatively small required changes in lifestyle, cosmetic improvements, and shaping attitudes regarding realistic weight loss goals," write the authors in Obesity.

Scott Doyle (University of Oxford, UK) and co-investigators developed an online survey to assess preferences and willingness to pay (WTP) for different attributes of weight loss pharmacotherapy in a group of obese individuals participating in, or actively seeking a weight loss intervention in the USA and UK.

Participants indicated their preference for hypothetical treatments which varied by seven attributes: percentage weight loss, treatment type, time to noticeable weight loss, diet and exercise requirements, side effects of treatment, health improvements, and cost of treatment.

A total of 502 obese (mean body mass index 37.12 kg/m2) participants completed the survey.

Doyle and team report that all treatment attributes were considered important to the patients, except for "time to noticeable weight loss."

Percentage weight loss was the most important factor in the WTP analysis. Respondents preferred treatments that did not require any change in diet and exercise routines, and oral treatment over injections. Avoiding side effects was also valued highly.

While health gains were valued highly when participants were asked to rank their motivations for losing weight, choice data suggest that long-term health gains were viewed as less important than other factors.

Patients were willing to pay £6.51 (US $10.49, €7.91) per month for each percentage point of weight loss that a pharmacotherapy could provide. Patients were also willing to spend a comparatively large amount of money to avoid treatment that involved a weekly injection, even if the alternative was three times per day oral medication.

The team concludes, therefore, that messages encouraging weight change may be more effective if directed at more immediate cosmetic benefits rather than long-term health benefits.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012

By Nikki Withers