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Weight Loss Programs May Thin Your Wallet, Not Your Waist

Consumers on extremely low calorie weight loss programs — Medifast, OPTIFAST, and Health Management Resources — initially showed at least a 4% greater short term weight loss compared with counseling, but there was some attenuation after six months and higher risk of medical complications, such as gallstones, according to the study’s authors. Study results were mixed for SlimFast. Studies on Internet-based Biggest Loser Club, Lose It!, and eDiets were also included but were inconclusive.

The researchers also found that commercial weight loss programs that require consumers to purchase meals cost between $570 per month and $682 per month. Web-based weight-loss apps were free.

Beckner estimates that she has spent nearly $1,000 on dieting.

There can be other costs associated with being excessively overweight, as well.

“You can be the most qualified professional at work, but obesity can cost you a raise,” says Dr. Eleazar Kadile, who specializes in treating patients with obesity. Eating more also increases spending on food and clothing, Kadile says. “The biggest cost, however, is healthcare due to bad health,” he added. “Obesity has severely taxed our country’s health care costs.” 

There’s good news on that front. Individuals covered by health insurance from the federal health insurance exchange, as well as some Medicaid recipients, are covered for obesity screening and counseling, thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

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