Gaining pounds by losing pounds: preferences for lifestyle interventions to reduce obesity

Mandy Ryan, Deokhee Yi, Alison Avenell, Flora Douglas, Lorna Aucott, Edwin van Teijlingen, Luke Vale

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While there is evidence that weight-loss interventions reduce morbidity, indications of their acceptability are limited. Understanding preferences for lifestyle interventions will help policymakers design interventions. We used a discrete choice experiment to investigate preferences for lifestyle interventions to reduce adult obesity. Attributes focused on: the components of the programme; weight change; short-term and longer-term health gains; time spent on the intervention and financial costs incurred. Data were collected through a web-based questionnaire, with 504 UK adults responding. Despite evidence that dietary interventions are the most effective way to lose weight, respondents preferred lifestyle interventions involving physical activity. While the evidence suggests that behaviour change support improves effectiveness of interventions, its value to participants was limited. A general preference to maintain current lifestyles, together with the sensitivity of take up to financial costs, suggests financial incentives could be used to help maximise uptake of healthy lifestyle interventions. An important target group for change, men, required more compensation to take up healthier lifestyles. Those of normal weight, who will increase in weight over time if they do not change their lifestyle, required the highest compensation. Policymakers face challenges in inducing people to change their behaviour and adopt healthy lifestyles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-182
Number of pages22
JournalHealth economics, policy, and law
Issue number2
Early online date28 Oct 2014
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2015

Bibliographical note

We would like to thank all respondents to the discrete choice experiment (DCE)
questionnaire and Tamara Brown and Joe Greener for their contribution to the
stages of the project that informed the attributes and levels for the DCE. This work
was conducted as part of PROGRESS (Prevent Obesity GRowing Economic
Synthesis Study) which was funded by the National Preventative Research
Initiative and the Universities of Aberdeen and Melbourne. The PROGRESS
group consists of the following applicants: Alison Avenell, University of
Aberdeen Health Services Research Unit (HSRU), Mandy Ryan, University
of Aberdeen Health Economics Research Unit (HERU), Luke Value, University of
Aberdeen HERU and HSRU, Lorna Aucott and Flora Douglas, University of
Aberdeen, Section of Population Health, Edwin van Teijlingen, Bournemouth
University, Alison Goode and Kostas Mavromaras, University of Adelaide
and Matt Sutton, University of Manchester. HERU and HSRU are core funded
by the Chief Scientist’s Office of the Scottish Government Health and Social
Care Directorates. AA was funded by a Career Scientist award from the Scottish
Government Health Directorates.


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