Good news for small employers – low-cost weight programs may be just as effective as costly, commercial programs.
A study published in Obesity found that low-cost weight management programs can be effective. The article, written by researchers from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, reported the outcomes from the nonprofit Take Off Pounds Sensibly (TOPS) program. They found that participants lost five to seven percent of their body weight and maintained the loss. At $90 annually, TOPS is significantly less expensive than other commercial weight loss programs that cost hundreds and even thousands (when food prices included) per year.
This is great news for small to midsized companies with limited resources. Offering a weight loss program provided by nonprofits such as TOPS or Overeater’s Anonymous can be a positive step toward achieving a healthier workforce. In a study I published in 2007 with researchers at the University of Washington, we found that a comprehensive weight management program can improve both health and cost outcomes. A difference in that program, used by Fortune 500 companies, than the one here, was its $6000 annual price tag per participant. While that program had effective components such as physician monitoring and behavioral counseling, its degree of intensity and cost is likely too great for small to midsized companies with a low budget for wellness. For these employers, supporting a membership into a program like TOPS may be the best use of their limited health promotion dollars.