The childhood obesity epidemic continues in the U.S., and fiscal crises are leading policymakers to ask not only whether an intervention works but also whether it offers value for money. However, cost-effectiveness analyses have been limited. This paper discusses methods and outcomes of four childhood obesity interventions: (1) sugar-sweetened beverage excise tax (SSB); (2) eliminating tax subsidy of TV advertising to children (TV AD); (3) early care and education policy change (ECE); and (4) active physical education (Active PE).
Cost-effectiveness models of nationwide implementation of interventions were estimated for a simulated cohort representative of the 2015 U.S. population over 10 years (2015–2025). A societal perspective was used; future outcomes were discounted at 3%. Data were analyzed in 2014. Effectiveness, implementation, and equity issues were reviewed.
Population reach varied widely, and cost per BMI change ranged from $1.16 (TV AD) to $401 (Active PE). At 10 years, assuming maintenance of the intervention effect, three interventions would save net costs, with SSB and TV AD saving $55 and $38 for every dollar spent. The SSB intervention would avert disability-adjusted life years, and both SSB and TV AD would increase quality-adjusted life years. Both SSB ($12.5 billion) and TV AD ($80 million) would produce yearly tax revenue.
The cost effectiveness of these preventive interventions is greater than that seen for published clinical interventions to treat obesity. Cost-effectiveness evaluations of childhood obesity interventions can provide decision makers with information demonstrating best value for the money. (Author abstract)