The European Journal of Health Economics

, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp 247–254 | Cite as

Cost-benefit analysis of a plant sterol containing low-fat margarine for cholesterol reduction

  • A. Gerber
  • T. Evers
  • H. Haverkamp
  • K. W. Lauterbach
Original Papers


For decreasing the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) it has been proposed to enrich food such as margarine with plant sterol esters which have been shown to reduce total and LDL cholesterol concentrations, two of the major risk factors. A Markov model was developed to assess the costs and benefits of consuming a low-fat plant sterol containing margarine (PS margarine). A health insurer’s perspective was taken with a time frame of 10 years. Transition probabilities for CHD and CHD-related death were calculated on the basis of the Framingham risk equations. These were applied to a representative sample of the German population. The alteration in cholesterol levels after intake of PS margarine was estimated based on a meta-analysis of ten randomized controlled trials with parallel or crossover design that found a reduction of 5.7% in total cholesterol. Average annual costs of CHD were assumed to be at €3,000. Costs for “no CHD” and “CHD-related death” were set to €0 since the intervention would solely be paid by the consumers. Sensitivity analyses were performed with regard to annual costs, risk estimation, PS margarine reduction in total cholesterol, discount factor, and risk of CHD-related death. The 10-year CHD risks are 6.1% (PS margarine) vs. 6.5% (control). Thus expected 10-year CHD costs are €696 (PS margarine) vs. €748 (control). The cost savings of €52 varied between €32 and €74 in the sensitivity analysis. A projection at the level of the population for which evidence (randomized controlled trials) exists that plant sterols lower cholesterol (25.35 million) leads to a reduction of 117,000 CHD cases over 10 years and a cost reduction of €1.3 billion for this time period (sensitivity analysis €0.8–1.9 billion).


Cholesterol reduction Coronary heart disease Cost-benefit analysis Low-fat margarine Low-fat plant sterol 


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Copyright information

© Springer Medizin Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Gerber
    • 1
    • 2
  • T. Evers
    • 1
  • H. Haverkamp
    • 1
  • K. W. Lauterbach
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Health Economics and Clinical EpidemiologyUniversity of CologneGermany
  2. 2.Institute of Health Economics and Clinical EpidemiologyUniversity of CologneCologneGermany

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