Lifestyle

Remote weight-loss program optimized to cut costs, maximize results

A new, remote weight-loss program from Northwestern Medicine, called Opt-IN, yields maximum weight loss for the lowest price and less burden compared with the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), the current gold standard of behavioral, nondrug weight-loss programs, according to a study published online July 12 in Obesity.

Bonnie Spring, Ph.D., from the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago, and colleagues randomly assigned 562 overweight or obese adults to different weight-loss programs on top of a bare-minimum “core” program. The authors tested the effectiveness of 12 versus 24 coaching calls as well as the impact of primary care provider reports, text messaging, meal replacements, and buddy training to see which treatment components are essential and which can be diminished or eliminated to reduce costs and burden.

The treatment package that yielded maximum weight loss for less than $500—Opt-IN—included 12 coaching calls, buddy training, and primary care provider progress reports and generated an average weight loss of 13.4 pounds after six months, with 51.8 percent of the sample losing 7 percent of their original body weight. The DPP, which costs around $1,500, also generated weight loss of 7 percent of initial body weight in 50 percent of participants, but at a greater cost and with more hassle. Opt-IN is remote and costs participants $324 to $427.

“All these traditional treatments have not been scalable because they’re not accessible,” Spring said in a statement. “And they’re expensive and burdensome. The direction we’ve gone in with Opt-IN is to meet people where they are, and these days—especially during the COVID-19 pandemic—that means in their homes.”