Research Underway Now Could Lead to Better Insurance Coverage for Weight Loss

Media Resources

Jill Chadwick

News Director

Office: (913) 588-5013

Cell: (913) 223-3974


         Generally speaking, America is overweight and obesity is quickly overtaking tobacco as the leading preventable cause of cancer.  That’s according to the latest health statistics from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).  It’s also a big part of the motivation for a study underway by a large team of people lead by Kansas University Medical Center researcher Christie Befort called “RE-POWER”. 

“This study is unique,” Christie Befort, Ph.D., associate professor in Preventive Medicine and Public Health said. “The study is designed to impact policy and hopefully lead to insurance reimbursement for the most successful weight loss coaching.”

Dr. Befort knows that obesity is especially challenging for rural Americans who have less access to care. Although most insurance will currently reimburse for a fifteen minute session with a family doctor, running to town for help with weight loss is not always practical in rural communities.  The $10 million dollar RePower study  will follow approximately 1440 men and women in 36 rural primary clinics  across four states as they compare weight loss coaching in a traditional doctor visit to advice given in a group setting at a meeting or as part of conference calls. All three groups are instructed on diet, exercise and behavioral changes to sustainable weight loss.

“There’s nothing new in the advice being given,” Kim Henry, LPN with Sabetha Family Practice recently said at a group meeting she leads in rural Kansas.  “The advice boils down to eating less and moving more.  The study will help us determine through research the most effective way to get that important message across and help people lose and keep off the weight.”

In the video that follows, reporters can hear more about what makes this study unique from Principal Researcher, Christie Befort, Ph.D.  Group leader Kim Henry, LPN with Sabetha Family Practice shows reporters a meeting in action. Also on the video, 48-year-old Tate Toedman (pronounced Tayd –man) explains how he lost 74 pounds in six months with his group support and shares the changes it’s making now in his life.  He has 18 more months to go before the research is completed.