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The effect of participation in a weight loss programme on short-term health resource utilization


Obese people consume significantly greater amounts of health resources. This study set out to determine if health resource utilization by obese people decreases after losing weight in a comprehensive medically supervised weight management programme. Four hundred and fifty-six patients enrolled in a single-centred, multifaceted weight loss programme in a universal healthcare system were studied. Patient information was anonymously linked with administrative databases to measure health resource utilization for I year before and after the programme. Mean body mass index (BMI) decreased by more than 15%. The mean annual physician visits (pre = 9.6, post = 9.4) did not change significantly after the programme. However, patients saw a significantly fewer number of different physicians per year following the programme (pre = 4.5, post = 3.9; P < 0.001). Mean annual number of emergency visits (pre = 0.2; post = 0.2) and hospital admissions (pre = 0.05; post = 0.08) did not change. Neither baseline BMI, nor its change during the programme, influenced changes in health resource utilization. This study suggests that weight loss in a supervised weight management programme does not necessarily decrease short-term health resource utilization. Further study is required to determine if patients who maintain their weight loss experience a decrease in health utilization.



van Walraven C, Dent R. J Eval Clin Pract. 2002; 8(1):37-44.

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