School-based programmes for preventing childhood obesity have been shown to be effective in improving eating habits and nutritional status, but few intervention programmes with a controlled design have included an economic evaluation. In this study, we conducted a cost-consequence analysis to evaluate the costs and the health benefits of the ‘Planning Health in School’ programme (PHS-pro) implemented in the Northern region of Portugal to 449 children of 10–14 years old. Previous study has showed that after PHS-pro, several anthropometric measures significantly improved in the intervention group (height, waist circumference and waist-height ratio) compared with the control group, followed by significant improvements on soft drinks, fruit and vegetables daily consumptions. Costs were estimated according the two phases of the programme: designing and preparation of schools, and school setting implementation, and included all the direct costs on human and material resources. PHS-pro total costs were estimated as 7915.53€/year with an intervention cost of 36.14€/year/child attending the programme. This is much lower than the direct costs for treating an obese adult in Portugal, which was calculated as 3849.15€/year. A scale-up costing projection for implementing the PHS-pro to a larger young population was estimated to be even lower: 18.18€/year/child. This cost-consequence analysis provided evidence that the PHS-pro was economically feasible especially if compared with the medical costs for treating adult obesity. The PHS-pro can be a beneficial investment and may give a promising contribution to addressing overweight over childhood and adolescence, which are developmental stages that determine adulthood chronic diseases.

This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (