According to a report published online in Preventive Medicine, a weight management intervention designed for military members who are inactive and retired, and their families, could improve their health in addition to lowering medical expenditures.
Investigators at RTI International, Virginia Commonwealth University, University of South Carolina, Cooper Institute, and TRICARE Management Activity, discovered that patients who took park in the Healthy Eating and Active Living in TRICARE households (HEALTH) weight management program, lost weight, lowered blood pressure and increased physical activity.
TRICARE is a health care program that serves National Guard and Reserve members, active duty service members, families, survivors and retirees across the globe.
The aim of Health weight management is to help participating members set goals, solve problems and self-monitoring skills, as well as build social support for lifestyle changes.
Jim Hersey, Ph.D., a senior research psychologist at RTI and the investigation's lead author, explained:
"We found that a relatively inexpensive cognitive-behavioral weight management intervention improved patient outcomes. TRICARE tends to cover beneficiaries from the time of enrollment until they reach Medicare eligibility. Thus, a modest weight loss intervention that leads to savings for the entire TRICARE population would significantly reduce direct medical costs."
The investigation included nearly 1,800 non-active duty TRICARE beneficiaries living in 4 Midwestern states. Study participants were then split into three groups:
- Participants in group one received basic web access as well as written materials
- Those in group two received the same materials as those in group one in addition to access to an interactive website that offered computerized feedback
- Participants in group 3 were given the same as those in group two in addition to coaching support via email and telephone every fortnight
Furthermore, the investigation discovered that percentage of participants who took part in regular physical activity rose considerably from 29.1% to 40.2% after 1 year, this figure increased up to 44.2% after 15 to 18 months.
The weight management program proved to be cost-effective. For participants in groups one and two, $30 to $40 per person was needed in order to achieve a 1% weight loss, while $70 per person was required for those in group three. The investigators estimated that the savings in medical costs for the first two groups would equal $500 per participant and the expenses of providing the program would be regained in three years.
For participants in group three, the medical cost savings would equal $750 per participant and would take 6 years to regain the expenses of providing the program. Hersey explained:
"The cost-effective of the HEALTH weight management program compares favorably with other preventive health programs, such as smoking cessation counseling and cholesterol education. It is most cost-effective than bariatric procedures."
Written by Grace Rattue