Valuing the benefits of weight loss programs: an application of the discrete choice experiment

Obes Res. 2004 Aug;12(8):1342-51. doi: 10.1038/oby.2004.169.


Objective: Obesity is a leading health threat. Determination of optimal therapies for long-term weight loss remains a challenge. Evidence suggests that successful weight loss depends on the compliance of weight loss program participants with their weight loss efforts. Despite this, little is known regarding the attributes influencing such compliance. The purpose of this study was to assess, using a discrete choice experiment (DCE), the relative importance of weight loss program attributes to its participants and to express these preferences in terms of their willingness to pay for them.

Research methods: A DCE survey explored the following weight loss program attributes in a sample of 165 overweight adults enrolled in community weight loss programs: cost, travel time required to attend, extent of physician involvement (e.g., none, monthly, every 2 weeks), components (e.g., diet, exercise, behavior change) emphasized, and focus (e.g., group, individual). The rate at which participants were willing to trade among attributes and the willingness to pay for different configurations of combined attributes were estimated using regression modeling.

Results: All attributes investigated appeared to be statistically significant. The most important unit change was "program components emphasized" (e.g., moving from diet only to diet and exercise).

Discussion: The majority of participants were willing to pay for weight loss programs that reflected their preferences. The DCE tool was useful in quantifying and understanding individual preferences in obesity management and provided information that could help to maximize the efficiency of existing weight loss programs or the design of new programs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Behavior Therapy
  • Body Mass Index
  • Community Health Services* / economics
  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Humans
  • Obesity / therapy*
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • Weight Loss*