Multi-strategy approach to address the problem of obesity in Australia.

The challenge

An obese Australia

The prevalence of overweight and obese Australians has been steadily increasing for the past 30 years. In 2011–12, around 60 per cent of Australian adults were classified as overweight or obese, and more than 25 per cent of these fell into the obese category.1

Health problems related to excess weight impose substantial economic burdens on individuals, families, and communities. Data from the Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle (AusDiab) study indicate that the total direct cost for overweight and obesity in 2005 was $21 billion ($6.5 billion for overweight and $14.5 billion for obesity). The same study estimated indirect costs of $35.6 billion per year, resulting in an overall total annual cost of $56.6 billion.2

Our response

A health improvement program

Impromy is an attempt to take a multi-strategy approach to achieving the sustainability of weight loss goals. It combines the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet Book with commercial meal replacement, and in-pharmacy and online support, to maximise user interaction. The use of additional strategies to improve compliance and guide individual choices can improve the sustainability of weight loss outcomes.

Impromy is delivered via a commercial partnership between CSIRO and Probiotec called the Impromy Health and Weight Management Program. The Program was developed collaboratively between the two parties.

Impromy is offered through pharmacies, and provides a package of meal replacements or "shakes" (for breakfast and lunch), high protein meals, and ongoing support by trained pharmacy staff.

The results

Better health outcomes

The impact

Impromy has been in place for nearly three years, with early reported results including weight loss, lower glucose levels, and blood pressure stabilisation. Given that most customers of Impromy have health risk factors outside the healthy range, achieving weight loss for this group should be expected to reduce disease risk and the burden of disease associated with excess weight and obesity.

Drawing on what is known about Impromy to date, and based on various assumptions about impacts on health outcomes related to diabetes management, it is estimated that Impromy has so far generated avoided healthcare costs in the order of $3.5-$6.6 million relating to improved diabetes management alone.

Download impact evaluation report:

  1. ABS (2012) Australian health survey: First results, 2011–12. ABS cat. no. 4364.0.55.001. Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics.
  2. Colagiuri S, Lee CMY, Colagiuri R et al. (2010) The cost of overweight and obesity in Australia. Med J Aust 192: 260–64.

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