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Editorial |

The Cost-effectiveness of Programs to Prevent or Reduce Obesity The State of the Literature and a Future Research Agenda

John Cawley, PhD
Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2007;161(6):611-614. doi:10.1001/archpedi.161.6.611.
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Since 1970, the prevalence of overweight has almost quadrupled among children aged 6 to 11 years and has more than doubled among youths aged 12 to 19 years.1 As of 2003-2004, 17.1% of children and adolescents aged 2 to 19 years in the United States are clinically overweight, a figure more than 3 times greater than the Healthy People 2010 goal of 5%.2,3 This has led the US government and the Institute of Medicine to declare obesity an epidemic among American youths,4,5 with important implications for physical6,7 and mental health8,9 and medical care costs.10,11

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Improvements in quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs) associated with an intervention. The lower line indicates the trajectory of one's quality of life in the absence of the intervention, and the higher line depicts the trajectory of one's quality of life after receiving the intervention. The area between the 2 lines (A + B) is equal to the total QALY increase associated with the intervention. Area A represents the increase in QALY due to improved quality of life during years that would have been lived even in the absence of intervention, and area B represents the increase in QALY due to living longer because of the intervention. Note: this figure was adapted from Figure 4.2 from Cost-Effectiveness in Health and Medicine.14

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