Bariatric surgery, lifestyle interventions and orlistat for severe obesity: the REBALANCE mixed-methods systematic review and economic evaluation

Alison Avenell* (Corresponding Author), Clare Robertson, Zoe Skea, Elisabet Jacobsen, Dwayne Boyers, David Cooper, Magaly Aceves-Martins, Lise Retat, Cynthia Fraser, Paul Aveyard, Fiona Stewart, Graeme MacLennan, Laura Webber, Emily Corbould, Benshuai Xu, Abbygail Jaccard, Bonnie Boyle, Eilidh Duncan, Michal Shimonovich, Marijn de Bruin

*Corresponding author for this work

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Background: Adults with severe obesity [body mass index (BMI) of ≥ 35 kg/m2] have an increased risk of comorbidities and psychological, social and economic consequences. Objectives: Systematically review bariatric surgery, weight-management programmes (WMPs) and orlistat pharmacotherapy for adults with severe obesity, and evaluate the feasibility, acceptability, clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of treatment. Data sources: Electronic databases including MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials and the NHS Economic Evaluation Database were searched (last searched in May 2017). Review methods: Four systematic reviews evaluated clinical effectiveness, cost-effectiveness and qualitative evidence for adults with a BMI of ≥ 35 kg/m2. Data from meta-analyses populated a microsimulation model predicting costs, outcomes and cost-effectiveness of Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB) surgery and the most effective lifestyle WMPs over a 30-year time horizon from a NHS perspective, compared with current UK population obesity trends. Interventions were cost-effective if the additional cost of achieving a quality-adjusted life-year is < £20,000–30,000. Results: A total of 131 randomised controlled trials (RCTs), 26 UK studies, 33 qualitative studies and 46 cost-effectiveness studies were included. From RCTs, RYGB produced the greatest long-term weight change [–20.23 kg, 95% confidence interval (CI) –23.75 to –16.71 kg, at 60 months]. WMPs with very low-calorie diets (VLCDs) produced the greatest weight loss at 12 months compared with no WMPs. Adding a VLCD to a WMP gave an additional mean weight change of –4.41 kg (95% CI –5.93 to –2.88 kg) at 12 months. The intensive Look AHEAD WMP produced mean long-term weight loss of 6% in people with type 2 diabetes mellitus (at a median of 9.6 years). The microsimulation model found that WMPs were generally cost-effective compared with population obesity trends. Long-term WMP weight regain was very uncertain, apart from Look AHEAD. The addition of a VLCD to a WMP was not cost-effective compared with a WMP alone. RYGB was cost-effective compared with no surgery and WMPs, but the model did not replicate long-term cost savings found in previous studies. Qualitative data suggested that participants could be attracted to take part in WMPs through endorsement by their health-care provider or through perceiving innovative activities, with WMPs being delivered to groups. Features improving long-term weight loss included having group support, additional behavioural support, a physical activity programme to attend, a prescribed calorie diet or a calorie deficit. Limitations: Reviewed studies often lacked generalisability to UK settings in terms of participants and resources for implementation, and usually lacked long-term follow-up (particularly for complications for surgery), leading to unrealistic weight regain assumptions. The views of potential and actual users of services were rarely reported to contribute to service design. This study may have failed to identify unpublished UK evaluations. Dual, blinded numerical data extraction was not undertaken. Conclusions: Roux-en-Y gastric bypass was costly to deliver, but it was the most cost-effective intervention. Adding a VLCD to a WMP was not cost-effective compared with a WMP alone. Most WMPs were cost-effective compared with current population obesity trends. Future work: Improved reporting of WMPs is needed to allow replication, translation and further research. Qualitative research is needed with adults who are potential users of, or who fail to engage with or drop out from, WMPs. RCTs and economic evaluations in UK settings (e.g. Tier 3, commercial programmes or primary care) should evaluate VLCDs with long-term follow-up (≥ 5 years). Decision models should incorporate relevant costs, disease states and evidence-based weight regain assumptions. Study registration: This study is registered as PROSPERO CRD42016040190.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-286
Number of pages286
JournalHealth Technology Assessment
Issue number68
Early online date1 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - 4 Dec 2018


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