BUFFALO, N.Y., March 7 /PRNewswire/ -- BlueCross BlueShield of Western New
York and the University at Buffalo's (UB) School of Public Health and Health
Professions today announced a five-year research and treatment program for the
severely obese that will study the effects of weight-loss alternatives to
gastric bypass surgery. The $5 million program is a landmark effort to stem
the public health obesity crisis. According to the Centers for Disease
Control, the annual cost of obesity in the United States is $117 billion,
including healthcare expenses and lost productivity. An estimated $4.5
billion was spent on gastric bypass surgery in 2005, a 1,000 percent increase
The program, involving 280 BlueCross BlueShield members, will be the first
of its kind to use and assess proven scientific methods for treating the
severely obese (approximately 100 pounds or more over ideal weight).
Participants will be monitored in one of four different programs, each using
various combinations of behavior modification and lifestyle changes, meal
replacement, counseling, and medication. The outcomes and costs of medical
care of the groups will be compared to each other and with a population of
patients who have undergone bariatric gastric-bypass surgery.
"The U.S. Surgeon General calls obesity 'the terror within' and has issued
a call to action," stated Alphonso O'Neil-White, President & CEO of BlueCross
BlueShield of Western New York. "BlueCross BlueShield's investment with the
University at Buffalo will generate scientific evidence to develop a gold
standard, best practices to treat the severely obese. This research
initiative is necessary and is urgent, because the costs to our society and
our economy are far too great," he added.
"Promoting health and wellness, and developing pioneering new methods of
preventing and treating serious diseases such as extreme obesity, are the
essential strategies by which we are working to serve the health-care needs of
our larger communities," said UB's President John B. Simpson, Ph.D.
According to Michael F. Noe, M.D., UB clinical professor of social and
preventive medicine and principal investigator on the study, many participants
meet the criteria for bariatric surgery yet, for various reasons, it is not a
viable option for them.
"It's essential that alternative, nonsurgical approaches to help people
who are severely overweight be evaluated," said Noe, "and we need to determine
if these new approaches are safe, doable and cost-effective. We think this
study will provide some definitive answers."
For additional information on the treatment and research program, view
SOURCE BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York