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The Cost of Weight Loss

In today’s blog post I’d like to explore the subject of the cost of weight loss. I will be discussing how much people spend trying to lose weight overall and I would also like to look at specific methods and discuss their cost. I will use several sources to get my cost estimates.

First let’s discuss how much typically spend when they try to lose weight. This number is going to be non-specific and will include all methods that people use to lose weight. Included here are diet plans, gym memberships, medical weight loss, etc. Technically it would even include what we do to help clients lose weight in our Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky weight loss centers. First, let’s look at how much Americans spend in total each year on weight loss programs. The Numbers from Harvard medical School is around $70 billion. So that is the total spend on all methods by all Americans, but how much does each individual spend. According to The Global Health Institute at Duke University the average amount that someone spends to lose 30 pounds is $4000. You heard that right, $4000 to lose 30 pounds! This works out to $133 per pound! Unfortunately, from other sources I have read and from discussing costs with clients and colleagues, this number seems pretty accurate.

But what about individual programs, systems, diets, whatever? Certainly some are less expensive than others. The Ohio State University did a study and found that Nutrisystem would cost a client about $130 per pound to lose weight while Jenny Craig was between $131 up to $237 per pound. These numbers are right in line with the averages quoted above.

Ok, so let’s now talk about medical management of weight and medical weight loss. We’ll start here with the lap band procedure. This surgical procedure has an average cost of $14,500 and most estimates show that insurance will cover up to 80%. Let’s say this upper end estimate is the standard. That would leave the patient paying $2900 out of pocket. We then have to look at how many patients put the weight back on and then have to try something else. Some studies have demonstrated that over a period of time ¾ of these patients put the weight back on. This then leads to the need to do something else to lose this weight, which increases cost.

What about drugs? We will cover the new Semaglutide drugs (Ozempic, Wegovy, and Mounjorno) as they are getting a lot of buzz. First off it is very rare for insurance to cover any of the cost of these drugs when they are used for weight loss. The estimated cost for the use of Ozempic is around $900/month ( Wegovy is $1350 per month ( Mounjorno is $1100 per month ( Further studies have shown that patients taking Ozempic lose an average of 27 pounds by the 6 week mark. The math works out to $5400 to lose close to the 30 pound average. This is obviously well above the $4000 number quoted earlier. The numbers for Wegovy and Mounjorno look even worse, with the former costing as much as $91K.

There are a number of reasons for these extreme costs when it comes to weight loss. Many of these reasons I will go over in a future blog post.

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