ISSN: 2455-2976
Journal of Cardiovascular Medicine and Cardiology
Research Article       Open Access      Peer-Reviewed

How Expensive is it to lose weight? - The financial cost of one such weight loss program

Richard M Fleming1* and Tapan K Chaudhuri2

1FHHI-OmnificImaging-Camelot, Los Angeles, CA, USA
2Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk, VA, USA
*Corresponding author: Richard M Fleming, PhD, MD, FHHI-OmnificImaging-Camelot, Los Angeles, CA, USA, E-mail: drrichardmfleming@gmail.com
Received: 01 April, 2020 | Accepted: 10 April, 2020 | Published: 11 April, 2020
Keywords: Costs of weight loss program; Diets; Soy; Weight loss; Food Industry; Pre-packaged foods

Cite this as

Fleming RM, Chaudhuri TK (2020) How Expensive is it to lose weight? - The financial cost of one such weight loss program. J Cardiovasc Med Cardiol 7(2): 057-059. DOI: 10.17352/2455-2976.000113

Background: Obesity is the result of excess caloric consumption compared with caloric expenditure. Multiple approaches exist including pre-packaged meals. This study looked at just one proposed product and the cost of its use.

Methods: Sixty premenopausal women were selected to participate in a weight reduction product composed of prepackaged soy protein. The soy protein product was designed as a meal replacement program. Changes in weight were measured and reported for one month.

Results: The use of this soy product meal replacement program resulted in 7-pounds weight loss over four-weeks. Participants consumed an average of 3.75 servings of this soy chip product each day for an average of 105 packages of the soy chip product over the 4-week period of time. At an average price of $2.99 per package (plus tax and fees), this would cost each individual $313.95 to obtain an average weight loss of 7.3 pounds or $43.01 per pound. The calories consumed by the women in soy product ranged from 385 to 402.5 kCal per day.

Conclusion: To lose 1-pound per week requires an energy deficit of 350 kCal per day or 3500 kCal per week. To lose 1.75 pounds per week – as seen in this study – would require a deficit of 612.5 kCal per day at a cost of $43.01 per pound of weight loss. This deficit is required on top of the caloric intake resulting from the soy product itself.

Key points

Questions: What is the financial cost for patients following prepackaged food replacement meals?

Findings: The overall cost associated with food replacement meals is not negligible. In this instance, a heavily marketed meal replacement program cost $43.01 per pound of weight loss.

Meaning: Given the significant numbers of weight loss programs currently marketed and the tendency for individuals to regain weight after cessation of such weight loss programs, this study raises concerns over the cost associated with such weight loss in the absence of more long term benefit including demonstration of improvement in cardiac health and reductions in cancer risk.

Introduction

Given the obsession with weight loss modern society, several companies have risen to the challenge of providing pre-packaged products for consumption. Rather than employing a reduction in caloric intake, the approach has been one of replacing one set of calories with another – the later providing a promise of weight loss and profits for the corporation producing the product. To the best of our knowledge, little attention has been placed on looking at the costs associated with the consumption of these products.

Methods

Following IRB approval and informed consent, 60-premenopausal women were enrolled in a weight loss study using a pre-packaged soy replacement product designed to be used by women in place of one of their daily meals. They were encouraged to replace the mid-day meal. The participants received free soy product for the purpose of this study at the time they were examined – initially (baseline) and at two-week intervals. Participants were provided product based upon their reported consumption of the product.

Following IRB approval and informed consent, 60-premenopausal women were enrolled in a weight loss study using a pre-packaged soy replacement product designed to be used by women in place of one of their daily meals. They were encouraged to replace the mid-day meal. The participants received free soy product for the purpose of this study at the time they were examined – initially (baseline) and at two-week intervals. Participants were provided product based upon their reported consumption of the product.

Statistical analysis

Physicians Pharmaceuticals and their third-party academic researcher at the University of Georgia did the statistical analysis and power analysis independently.

Results

The reported weights for each participant and the subsequent change in weight during each successive interval are shown in Table 1.

The average weight for the participants was 193.71 +/- 37.54 pounds at the beginning of their participation. Weight loss for the participants are shown in Figure 1, with the mean +/- standard deviation for all subjects combined are shown in Table 2. The mean weight loss was 7.3 pounds and the median weight loss was 7.0 pounds with a range of 6 pounds gained to 19 pounds lost. The results of statistical analysis were obtained using two-tailed student t-testing. The reported statistical significance of weight change was p<0.01.

The specific weights of each individual have been reported previously and statistically analyzed for data validity by statisticians from Iowa State University [1]. As detailed at that time, all but one of the women lost weight, while one woman actually gained 6-pounds. The resulting changes in weight minimally satisfied the necessary weight loss to demonstrate a statistically significant benefit as shown in Table 3.

Discussion

The promotion of weight loss products and the weight loss industry is a very profitable industry currently in excess of $66 Billion annually [2]. The current study included women who did not need to pay for the product they consumed. We believe part of the reason for doing this was to determine how much of the product women would consume if they didn’t need to worry about cost. This undoubtedly provided the soy manufacturer with information they desired for product development.

The actual loss of weight; however, is independent of the diet employed. The only concern being the associated consequences of following a specific dietary program [3] and the necessary reductions in caloric content required for weight loss.

Given the additional caloric intake included with the daily consumption of an additional 385 to 402.4 kCal (393.7 kCal average) of the 3.75 packages-ranging from 110 to 115 kCal per package – eaten on average, the women would need to produce an additional deficit of 612.5 kCal per day plus approximately 393.7 kCal to compensate for the caloric intake of the soy product. The cost of which is currently $2.99 per package. At the given average of 3.75 packages per day, this would cost each woman $313.95 per month or $43.01 per pound per month.

The questions isn’t whether losing weight is an important strategy for reducing risks from inflammatory diseases [4] but the cost of that weight loss and whether women, and men, are being taken advantage of by corporate producers of food.

Conclusion and limitations

The determination of how many packages of the pre-packaged soy product were consumed was based upon the reporting of the participants with an average daily number of 3.75 servings per person. Rather than question the integrity of those participating, we are left with the numbers provided to us for analysis. Additionally we cannot fully question the motives of the food producer involved in this study – although we must also question the amount of altruism present. Given the massive amount of money being spent on weight loss and the continued problem associated with increasing levels of individuals both over weight and morbidly obese, one cannot help but question the association between the food industry’s involvement in the obesity epidemic and the actual epidemic itself. The results obtained were the expected equivalent of anyone merely cutting back on the number of calories consumed each day by 350-500 kCal per day. Based upon this outcome, it is hard to justify spending money on any replacement product to lose weight, when the same result can be obtained by merely reducing caloric intake. The limitations of the study design were the result of the limitations placed on the study by the product manufacturer.

The authors have no conflict of interest to report. There is no funding to report. Revival Soy provided the product – Physicians Pharmaceuticals who provided product, maintain the informed consent documentation and were responsible for the statistical analysis of the data. All figures and material reproduced with the expressed consent of first author. We wish to thank Drs. Kaiser and Carriquiry of Iowa State University for their statistical analysis [1] and Dr. Gordon Harrington, who participated in the further analysis of the data [1].

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

  1. Fleming RM, Chaudhuri TK, Harrington GM (2020) The Statistical Analysis of Data Validity as Acknowledged by ORI. How Three Statisticians Validated Original Data and Exposed Plagiarism by a Public Defender. The Implications for all Research and Article III Courts. Biomed J Sci Tech Rep 24: 18254-18272. Link: https://bit.ly/2y9kGAA
  2. Commercial Chains Pace Strong Growth (2017) U.S. Weight Loss Market Worth $66 Billion. Link: https://prn.to/2K1TTsh
  3. Fleming RM, Fleming MR, McKusick A, Chaudhuri TK (2019) Objectively measuring popular diets affect on heart disease and breast cancer. Acta Sci Pharm Sci 3: 81-92. Link: https://bit.ly/3ccP9wm
  4. Fleming RM (1999) Chapter 64. The Pathogenesis of Vascular Disease. Textbook of Angiology. John C. Chang Editor, Springer-Verlag New York 787-798. Link: https://bit.ly/2K8wztj
© 2020 Fleming RM, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.