Cost-effectiveness of a Nutrition Education Curriculum Intervention in Elementary Schools.

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To estimate the long-term cost-effectiveness of an obesity prevention nutrition education curriculum (Food, Health, & Choices) as delivered to all New York City fifth-grade public school students over 1 year.

METHODS

This study is a standard cost-effectiveness analysis from a societal perspective, with a 3% discount rate and a no-intervention comparator, as recommended by the US Panel on Cost-effectiveness in Health and Medicine. Costs of implementation, administration, and future obesity-related medical costs were included. Effectiveness was based on a cluster-randomized, controlled trial in 20 public schools during the 2012-2013 school year and linked to published estimates of childhood-to-adulthood body mass index trajectories using a decision analytic model.

RESULTS

The Food, Health, & Choices intervention was estimated to cost $8,537,900 and result in 289 fewer males and 350 fewer females becoming obese (0.8% of New York City fifth-grade public school students), saving 1,599 quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs) and $8,098,600 in direct medical costs. Food, Health, & Choices is predicted to be cost-effective at $275/QALY (95% confidence interval, -$2,576/QALY to $2,084/QALY) with estimates up to $6,029/QALY in sensitivity analyses.

CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS

This cost-effectiveness model suggests that a nutrition education curriculum in public schools is effective and cost-effective in reducing childhood obesity, consistent with the authors' hypothesis and previous literature. Future research should assess the feasibility and sustainability of scale-up.

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