Improving care. Changing lives.

Child Mental Health Forum - Steven Gortmaker, Ph.D.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018 - 10:00am to 11:15am
Steven Gortmaker

The Childhood and Adolescent Obesity Epidemic: The Most Cost-Effective Prevention Strategies

Steven Gortmaker, Ph.D.
Professor of the Practice of Health Sociology,
Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences,
Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health

Decision makers aiming to reduce childhood obesity in the future must prioritize investment in treatment and primary prevention. We have estimated the cost-effectiveness of more than 40 childhood obesity intervention strategies, and projected the potential impact on population health over the next decade. We used systematic reviews and a microsimulation model of national implementation of the interventions over the period 2015-25 to estimate their impact on obesity prevalence and their cost-effectiveness. In our studies, a number of the interventions saved more in health care costs than they cost to implement. Three of these interventions prevented 129,000-576,000 cases of childhood obesity in 2025. Adolescent bariatric surgery had a negligible impact on obesity prevalence. Our results highlight the importance of primary prevention for policy makers aiming to reduce future childhood obesity.

Target Audience: Physicians (psychiatrists, pediatricians, child neurologists), psychologists, social workers, other mental health clinicians and researchers, and students and trainees.

Upon completion of this activity, participants will be able to:

  1. Evaluate the potential impact of prominent proposed nutrition, physical activity and treatment policies on reducing the childhood obesity epidemic.
  2. Compare the cost-effectiveness of these different strategies.

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