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Weight Loss Lowers Health Care Costs for Type 2 Diabetic Patients

Sep 19, 2014

Overweight diabetic patients who lose weight by dieting and increasing their physical activity can reduce their health care costs by an average of around $600 per year…. 

"This is the first study to show that weight loss can also save money for these individuals by reducing their health care needs and costs," Mark A. Espeland, PhD, professor of public health sciences at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, said. Espeland and colleagues looked at 5,121 patients aged 45 to 76 years who were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Out of these patients, 15% were overweight and 22% were class III obese. This study compared outcomes of an intensive lifestyle intervention (ILI) and diabetes support and education (DSE) over a course of 10 years.


Patients in the ILI group showed 11% lowered hospitalization annually compared to patients in DSE group (P=0.004) and annual hospitalization days were 15% lower in ILI group compared to DSE group (P=0.01). Moreover, annual rehabilitation/long-term care rates and home care were lowered in ILI group, P=0.05 and P=0.001 respectively. At the end, the annual cost of health care services were decreased by 7% in the ILI group compared to the DSE group (P=0.002), an average savings around $600 per participant.

Overall, this study showed that patients in ILI group maintained lower weight and regular higher levels of physical activity throughout 10 years compared to DSE group which resulted in better control of their health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, sleep cycle, physical activity, and also depression. This also helped to reduce overall health care cost for patients in ILI group compared to patients of DSE group.

Practice Pearls:
  • This study looked at the effect on health care costs from weight loss in patients with type 2 diabetes.
  • Patients were able to lower health care costs by $600 annually per patient.
  • Overall, patients were able to maintain lower body weight and regular physical activity when they followed intensive lifestyle intervention.

Mark A. Espeland et al. Impact of an Intensive Lifestyle Intervention on Use and Cost of Medical Services Among Overweight and Obese Adults With Type 2 Diabetes: The Action for Health in Diabetes. Diabetes Care, August 2014 DOI: 10.2337/dc14-0093 1935-5548