Cost comparison of five Australasian obesity prevention interventions for children aged from birth to two years

Limited published evidence exists on the costs of early childhood obesity prevention interventions conducted in research settings, despite recommendations that this information should be routinely reported for intervention trials.

We have recently published a systematic analysis of the costs of five early childhood obesity prevention interventions conducted in Australia and New Zealand.   This unique opportunity came about as a result of the CRE EPOCH, allowing us to pool and compare the resource use and cost data from five large randomised controlled trials (RCTs): Healthy Beginnings, Communicating Healthy Beginnings Advice by Telephone (CHAT), the Infant Feeding Activity and Nutrition Trial (InFANT), NOURISH and the Prevention of Overweight in Infancy (POI) trial.

We found wide diversity of resource use across the five RCTs, with the total cost per participant ranging from AUD$80 (95% UI $77-$82) for the CHAT SMS intervention arm to $1,135 (95% UI $1,059-$1,189) for the Healthy Beginnings intervention. The mode of intervention delivery and setting played a key role in determining total intervention cost, with individual home visits proving most costly (and potentially less likely to be financially sustainable) across populations.  Time cost for delivery of the intervention was a significant cost driver across all included RCTs.

An important finding was that telephone-delivered interventions, while reducing the cost burden associated with travel, may include unexpected time costs related to delivering the intervention to study participants (i.e. making repeat telephone calls to reach them).  So, while telephone-delivered interventions may still prove less expensive than more resource-intensive home visiting interventions, they may not offer substantial savings as compared to group-based interventions conducted in community settings or interventions delivered by SMS.

Our results also suggested that the more resource-intensive delivery modes, such as home-visiting, may represent a cost-efficient approach if intervention design and delivery can be tailored to participant need.

Findings from this paper will better inform policy-makers, academics and funders on the potential costs and affordability of different types of early childhood obesity prevention interventions.  Findings will also help to inform researchers and practitioners in designing and implementing future interventions.

For further information, email Dr Vicki Brown on

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