Obesity and Surgical Treatment – A Cost-Effectiveness Assessment for Sweden


  • Sixten Borg The Swedish Institute for Health Economics (IHE)
  • Ingmar Näslund University of Örebro, Surgical departement
  • Ulf Persson The Swedish Institute for Health Economics (IHE)
  • Knut Ödegaard The Swedish Institute for Health Economics (IHE)




cost-effectiveness analysis, QALY, obesity, bariatric surgery


The rising trend in the prevalence of obesity has during the past decades become a major public health concern in many countries, as obesity may lead to comorbidities and death. A frequent used marker for obesity is the Body Mass Index (BMI). The cost of treatment for obesity related diseases has become a heavy burden on national health care budget in many countries. While diet and exercise are the cornerstones of weight management, pharmaco­therapy is often needed to achieve and maintain desired weight loss.  In some cases of extreme obesity, bariatric surgery may be recommended. It is expected to increase by 50% in Sweden.

The overall objective was to develop a cost-effectiveness model using the best available evidence to assess the cost-effectiveness of gastric bypass (GBP) surgical treatments for obesity in adult patients, in comparison with conventional treatment (CT), in Sweden from a healthcare perspective. With the model we also seeked to identify the lower cut-off point using BMI criteria, for the surgical intervention to be cost-effective.

A micro-simulation model with an underlying Markov methodology was developed, that simulates individual patients. It simulates the outcomes of the patients in terms of treatment costs, life years, and quality adjusted life years (QALY) over his/her remaining lifetime. The costs are presented in SEK in the year 2006 price level (1 SEK ≈ 0.11 EUR ≈ 0.14 USD).

We estimated that the incremental cost per QALY gained will not exceed SEK 33,000 per QALY in patients with BMI < 35. In patients with BMI > 35 kg/m2, gastric bypass surgery has lower costs compared to conventional treatment.

Gastric bypass surgery is a cost-effective intervention compared to conventional treatment consisting of watchful waiting, diet and exercise.