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Overweight Adults Back Weight-Loss Health Benefits

But, study finds, few are willing to pay extra for whatever their plan might offer

THURSDAY, April 11 (HealthDay News) -- Most overweight adults feel that specific weight-loss benefits offered by health plans would be helpful, but few are willing to pay extra for them, according to a study published online April 9 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Marian P. Jarlenski, M.P.H., from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, and colleagues conducted a national survey among 600 non-pregnant, overweight, and obese adults who had seen a primary care provider in the last year to assess their beliefs about insurance coverage of weight loss-related benefits.

The researchers found that 83 percent of respondents cited specific weight-loss benefits as helpful. Two-thirds of those who believed that any benefit would be helpful reported that they would not be willing to pay for such a benefit. Individuals with private health insurance were significantly more likely to endorse any benefit as helpful (89 percent), compared to those with other types of insurance. Support for preventing health insurers from charging higher premiums to obese individuals was higher among obese (57 percent) versus overweight (39 percent) participants.

"In this sample of overweight adults, a large proportion endorsed the value of weight loss-related benefıts offered by health plans. However, only about one third were willing to pay extra for them, and half disagreed with the notion that health plans should charge more to obese individuals," the authors write. "Given evidence of their effectiveness, wellness benefıts should be offered to all individuals."

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