Assessing Effectiveness and Cost-Benefit of the Trinity Hospital Twin City Fit For Life Program for Weight Loss and Diabetes Prevention in a Rural Midwestern Town
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Assessing Effectiveness and Cost-Benefit of the Trinity Hospital Twin City Fit For Life Program for Weight Loss and Diabetes Prevention in a Rural Midwestern Town

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    Obesity is a top public health priority in the United States. This article reports on the Fit For Life (FFL) health education program designed to address the determinants of obesity in rural settings and help participants lose weight.

    Purpose and Objectives

    We evaluated the implementation of the original FFL program, a replication program, and a diabetes-focused program.

    Intervention Approach

    The original FFL program (2006 to 2012) was a 12-week session of classes meeting once weekly. Lecture topics included stress management, nutrition, healthy eating, reading food labels, fitness, disease prevention, and healthy aging. The replication program, conducted in 4 locations from 2012 to 2015, helped determine if the FFL program could be implemented on a larger scale, with outcomes similar to the original program. The longer, more-intensive FFL diabetes prevention program, conducted in 2016 and 2017, sought to reduce the number of rural adults at risk for diabetes.

    Evaluation Methods

    We evaluated FFL participation and outcome data from 2009 through first quarter 2017. We calculated rates of course participation and completion and measured changes in several health indicators. We constructed a linear regression model to examine the impact of health behaviors on weight loss and calculated program cost-effectiveness.


    From 2009 to 2017, FFL was delivered to over 1,200 people; 82% of participants completed the program. Completing participants lost an average of 2.7 kg or 3% of their total weight. Overall, 68% of participants said they exercised more per week at the end of the program than at the beginning. Estimated cost per kilogram lost for replication sites was between $73 and $101 for original FFL, in line with other programs. The more resource-intensive diabetes prevention program cost per kilogram lost was $151 to $171.

    Implications for Public Health Practice

    Weight loss and lifestyle management are major ways to counteract obesity. Improving program options, especially in rural locales, should be a key policy priority. These programs should be considered for population-based expansion, perhaps by health departments or public–private health care consortiums.

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