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01-10-2016 | Uitgave 10/2016

Quality of Life Research 10/2016

Assessing long-term QALYs gain from averting and reversing overweight and obesity in childhood

Quality of Life Research > Uitgave 10/2016
Win Techakehakij
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The online version of this article (doi:10.​1007/​s11136-016-1285-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.



Interventions to tackle childhood obesity have been devised in response to the rising prevalence of childhood obesity. However, efficiency of these interventions remains a concern. Cost-utility analysis, representing health benefits in terms of quality-adjusted life years (QALYs), is a type of economic evaluation that has widely been recommended in assessing efficiency of health interventions. However, certain limitations in using QALYs remain specifically difficult in QALYs estimation. This study estimates the long-term QALYs gain from reversing childhood obesity in Thailand.


An economic model was developed to estimate long-term QALYs of the youth aged 3–18 for the BMI status in childhood, which were categorized into three groups: normal weight, overweight, and obese. Long-term QALYs were estimated between ages 35 and 100, according to children’s age, sex, and BMI status. Differences in QALYs between BMI status groups were calculated to represent the QALYs gain for youth from reversing obesity and overweight. The future outcomes were discounted at 3 % per annum in the base-case analysis; the discount rates of 0, 1.5, 3.5, and 5 % were also applied in the sensitivity analyses.


QALYs gained from reversing childhood obesity increase with age, starting from 0.040 and 0.083 QALYs at age 3 to 0.590 and 0.553 QALYs at age 18 in boys and girls, respectively. Reversing overweight and obesity in girls produces more QALYs than in boys between ages 3 and 17.


Efficiency is an important issue in allocating public healthcare resources to maximize social benefits. The results of this study facilitate long-term QALYs estimation with respect to BMI status in childhood, which could encourage more routine economic evaluation of child obesity interventions and maximize their health benefits.

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