Economic effects of interventions to reduce obesity in Israel

Gary M. Ginsberg, Elliot Rosenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Obesity is a major risk factor for many diseases. The paper calculates the economic impact and the cost per Quality-Adjusted Life Year (QALY) resulting from the adoption of eight interventions comprising the clinical and part of the community components of the National Prevention and Health Promotion Program (NPHPP) of the Israeli Ministry of Health (MOH) which represents the obesity control implementation arm of the MOH Healthy Israel 2020 Initiative.Methods: Health care costs per person were calculated by body mass index (BMI) by applying Israeli cost data to aggregated results from international studies. These were applied to BMI changes from eight intervention programmes in order to calculate reductions in direct treatment costs. Indirect cost savings were also estimated as were additional costs due to increased longevity of program participants. Data on costs and QALYs gained from Israeli and International dietary interventions were combined to provide cost-utility estimates of an intervention program to reduce obesity in Israel over a range of recidivism rates.Results: On average, persons who were overweight (25 ≤ BMI < 30)had health care costs that were 12.2% above the average health care costs of persons with normal or sub-normal weight to height ratios (BMI < 25). This differential in costs rose to 31.4% and 73.0% for obese and severely obese persons, respectively.For overweight (25 ≤ BMI < 30) and obese persons (30 ≤ BMI < 40), costs per person for the interventions (including the screening overhead) ranged from 35 NIS for a community intervention to 860 NIS, reflecting the intensity of the clinical setting intervention and the unit costs of the professionals carrying out the intervention [e.g., dietician]. Expected average BMI decreases ranged from 0.05 to 0.90. Higher intervention costs and larger BMI decreases characterized the two clinical lifestyle interventions for the severely obese (BMI ≥ 40).A program directed at the entire Israeli population aged 20 and over, using a variety of eight different interventions would cost 2.07 billion NIS overall. In the baseline scenario (with an assumed recidivism rate of 50% per annum), approximately 620,000,000 NIS would be recouped in the form of decreased treatment costs and indirect costs, increased productivity and decreased absenteeism. After discounting the 89,000,000 NIS additional health costs attributable to these extra life years, it is estimated that the total net costs to society would be 1.55 billion NIS. This total net cost was relatively stable to increases in the program's recidivism rates, but highly sensitive to reductions in recidivism rates.Under baseline assumptions, implementation of the cluster of interventions would save 32,671 discounted QALYs at a cost of only 47,559 NIS per QALY, less than half of the Israeli per capita GNP (104,000 NIS). Thus implementation of these components of the NPHPP should be considered very cost-effective.Conclusion: Despite the large costs of such a large national program to control obesity, cost-utility analysis strongly supports its introduction.

Original languageEnglish
Article number17
JournalIsrael Journal of Health Policy Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 18 Apr 2012
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2012 Ginsberg and Rosenberg; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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