Study: Real Appeal Digital Weight Loss Program Shows Significant Cost Savings

Real-world data demonstrates the program reduced medical costs were at least two times more than program costs

March 26, 2021 | Rally Health

MINNEAPOLIS – March 25, 2021 – A new study from Rally Health, Inc., published in the April 2021 issue of the peer-reviewed journal Obesity, showed significant medical cost savings associated with its digital therapeutic weight loss program Real Appeal® when compared to a control group of similar individuals.

This study examined real world program data over a three-year period to analyze medical cost trends for those participating in the Real Appeal digital weight loss intervention program. The study found that when comparing to a control group of similarly situated people, medical cost savings to employers and payers participating in Real Appeal were at least two times more than any program fees. This new study builds upon a 2018 large-scale Real Appeal study, also published in Obesity, showing the efficacy of the digital weight loss program.

“Improvements in health resulting from digital weight loss programs have been shown in other studies, but few have considered the financial impact on employers and payers that sponsor these programs,” said Cecelia Horstman, the study’s lead researcher and former director of health outcomes at Rally Health. “These results show that a digital weight loss intensive lifestyle intervention program is a smart investment not only in terms of a participant’s health, but also for the employers and health plans.”

In this new study, Real Appeal participants’ medical costs were compared to a control group of non-participants who were matched by age, gender, geographic region, health risk, baseline medical costs and chronic conditions. Both groups had at least four years of available medical data, and medical costs included the total amount paid both by insurers and the study subjects.

Key findings from the study include:

  • An average weight loss of 3% for 4,790 participants in Real Appeal who attended at least one session over a 52-week period. Medical expenditures for this cohort were 12% less than the control group ($771 per person) and represented 2.3 times the medical cost savings when compared to program costs.
  • An average weight loss of 4.4% for the 3,990 participants who attended more than nine sessions over a year. Medical costs were 14% less than the control group ($956 per person) and represented 2.0 times the medical cost savings when compared to program costs.

“The obesity epidemic in America is real, it’s costly, and we know it has a detrimental impact on the workforce. With this research from Real Appeal, we have a better understanding that digital weight loss intensive lifestyle intervention programs deliver net positive results both in terms of employee health and employer cost savings. We hope this contributes to the upward trend in their use,” said Donna Ryan, MD, professor emerita, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, and one of the study’s research collaborators.

About Real Appeal

Real Appeal’s digital therapeutic weight loss approach is based on decades of clinical research showing that simple steps over time lead to lasting weight loss. Since the program’s launch in 2015, hundreds of thousands of Real Appeal participants have collectively lost more than 3 million pounds.

Real Appeal uses intensive lifestyle intervention methodology based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s diabetes prevention program curriculum to highlight healthy lifestyle habits, including physical activity and healthy eating. Real Appeal’s 52-week program is designed to induce clinically meaningful weight loss and is one of only a few digital weight loss programs that offers live, virtual group coaching led by trained health coaches.

About the Study

"Return on Investment: Medical Savings of an Employer-Sponsored, Digital Intensive Lifestyle Intervention, Weight Loss" was published in the April 2021 issue of the peer-reviewed journal Obesity. Cecelia Horstman, MSPH, former director of health outcomes, Rally Health, led the study. Co-authors included obesity medicine specialists Louis J. Aronne, MD, FACP, FTOS, DABOM; Caroline Apovian, MD, FACP, FTOS, DABOM; Donna H. Ryan, MD; John Foreyt, PhD; Hannah Tuttle, MPH; and Donald Williamson, PhD. Funding for the study was provided by Rally Health, Inc.

About Rally Health, Inc.

Rally Health, Inc. is a consumer-centric digital health company that makes it easy for individuals to take charge of their health and collaborates with health plans, health care providers, and employers to engage consumers. The company’s flagship offering is Rally®, a leading digital health platform that delivers web and mobile solutions to help people manage their employee benefits, health and well-being, and health care needs. Nearly 60 million consumers have access to the Rally platform through more than 200,000 employers, and health plans including UnitedHealthcare and BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina. Rally Health, which is part of the Optum business of UnitedHealth Group, has been working since 2010 to transform the consumer health experience. For more information, please visit

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