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Intervention Program Proves Cost-Effective Among Military Population

December 05, 2019

Recent study findings, published online in Obesity, suggest that a counselor-initiated intervention program is a cost-effective approach to address excess weight among US military members.

For the study, a team of researchers, led by Karina Manz, MPH, and colleagues, examined the program, Look AHEAD (Action for Health in Diabetes), an intensive lifestyle intervention program.

“This study aimed to assess whether a counselor‐initiated adaptation of the Look AHEAD intensive lifestyle intervention in a military setting was cost‐effective relative to a self‐paced adaptation,” the research team explained.

Ms Manz and her team conducted a cost-effectiveness analysis from a payer perspective. This analysis was in addition to a 2014‐2017 randomized behavioral weight loss trial among 248 active‐duty military personnel stationed at a US Air Force base in Texas. The researchers used incremental cost-effectiveness ratios to calculate weight loss, reductions in waist circumference, and quality-adjusted life-years (QALY).   

According to the findings, counselor-initiated adaption cost more per study participant compared with self-paced adaptation after 12 months ($1081 versus $120). However, the researchers found that counselor-initiated adaption helped participants achieve greater weight loss (1.86 kg vs. 0.06 kg), greater reductions in waist circumference (1.85 cm vs. 0.48 cm), and more QALYs (0.871 vs. 0.856). Further, the incremental cost‐effectiveness ratio for the counselor-initiated adaptation relative to the self-paced adaptation was $61,268 per additional QALY. Finally, counselor-initiated adaption was 45% and 49% likely to be cost-effective among willingness-to-pay thresholds of $50,000 and $100,000 per QALY.  

“The [counselor-initiated] delivery of the Look AHEAD Intensive Lifestyle Intervention may offer a cost‐effective approach to tackle excess weight in the US military,” Ms Manz and colleagues concluded. 

—Julie Gould 


Manz KC, Waters TM, Clifton HE, et al. Cost-effectiveness of a weight loss intervention: an adaption of the Look AHEAD lifestyle intervention in the US Military [published online November 26, 2019]. Obesity. doi:

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