A randomized pilot trial of a full subsidy vs. a partial subsidy for obesity treatment

Academic Article


  • Intensive obesity treatment is mandated by federal health care reform but is costly. A partial subsidy for obesity treatment could lower the cost of treatment, without reducing its efficacy. This study sought to test whether a partial subsidy for obesity treatment would be feasible, as compared to a fully subsidized intervention. The study was a pilot randomized trial. Participants (n = 50) were primary care patients with obesity and at least one comorbid condition (diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, or obstructive sleep apnea). Each participant received eight weight loss counseling visits as well as portion-controlled foods for weight loss. Participants were randomized to full subsidy or partial subsidy (2 vs. 1 meal per day provided). The primary outcome was weight change after 4 months. Secondary outcomes included changes in blood pressure, waist circumference, and health-related quality of life. Participants in the full and partial subsidy groups lost 5.9 and 5.3kg, equivalent to 5.3% and 5.1% of initial weight, respectively (P = 0.71). Changes in secondary outcomes were similar in the two groups. A partial subsidy was feasible and induced a clinically similar amount of weight loss, compared to a full subsidy. Large-scale testing of economic incentives for weight control is merited given the federal mandate to offer weight loss counseling to obese patients. © 2011 The Obesity Society.
  • Authors

    Published In

  • Obesity  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Tsai AG; Felton S; Hill JO; Atherly AJ
  • Start Page

  • 1838
  • End Page

  • 1843
  • Volume

  • 20
  • Issue

  • 9