Over 18 months, the stepped-care program cost about $785 per person while the standard program cost more than $1,350, the study found. Those in the standard intervention group lost slightly more weight.
"The message is the cost/benefit," Bray said. "In this study, they did as well or better by focusing on the people who didn't do quite as well and needed the extra help."
For help choosing a weight-loss program, check the U.S. Weight-Control Information Network.
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