Costs and benefits of a school-based health intervention in Portugal

Margarida Vieira*, Graça S. Carvalho

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1141-1148
Number of pages8
JournalHealth Promotion International
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Childhood obesity
  • Cost-consequence analysis
  • Intervention costs
  • School-based intervention


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