Objective: To report on a new modelling approach developed for the assessing cost-effectiveness in obesity (ACE-Obesity) project and the likely population health benefit and strength of evidence for 13 potential obesity prevention interventions in children and adolescents in Australia.
Methods: We used the best available evidence, including evidence from non-traditional epidemiological study designs, to determine the health benefits as body mass index (BMI) units saved and disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) saved. We developed new methods to model the impact of behaviours on BMI post-intervention where this was not measured and the impacts on DALYs over the child's lifetime (on the assumption that changes in BMI were maintained into adulthood). A working group of stakeholders provided input into decisions on the selection of interventions, the assumptions for modelling and the strength of the evidence.
Results: The likely health benefit varied considerably, as did the strength of the evidence from which that health benefit was calculated. The greatest health benefit is likely to be achieved by the 'Reduction of TV advertising of high fat and/or high sugar foods and drinks to children', 'Laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding' and the 'multi-faceted school-based programme with an active physical education component' interventions.
Conclusions: The use of consistent methods and common health outcome measures enables valid comparison of the potential impact of interventions, but comparisons must take into account the strength of the evidence used. Other considerations, including cost-effectiveness and acceptability to stakeholders, will be presented in future ACE-Obesity papers. Information gaps identified include the need for new and more effective initiatives for the prevention of overweight and obesity and for better evaluations of public health interventions.